DC leaders react to recent juvenile violence

Last year, D.C. faced a 20-year-high in homicides, which appears to be spilling into 2022.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee on Thursday called for greater juvenile accountability as they took questions regarding a Northeast D.C. shootout that involved two 15-year-olds and a 13-year-old.

"Where does a 13-year-old get a firearm from? Where does two 15-year-olds get firearms from? But they go further to that to even use them in broad daylight … that’s unacceptable, and we’ve got to make sure there’s a mechanism of accountability in place to ensure that does not happen," Chief Contee said.

The alleged teen shootout took place at a little after 2:40 p.m. on Wednesday – while plenty of people was outside. The investigation caused delays in the area of New York Avenue near Florida Avenue. But no one was reported injured.

The police report revealed that a Glock, a 9mm pistol, and a ghost gun were seized. The report also mentioned that one of the guns confiscated was previously reported stolen in the District of Columbia.

Three teenagers arrested for shooting at each other in Northeast DC

"It's not that arrests aren’t being made. Where do we need to make adjustments in the system?," asked Chief Contee, as he encouraged people to look at the entire "ecosystem" and follow cases as they move through the system. 

Contee also told Fox 5 when it comes to carjackings, D.C. police arrested a total of 149 people last year. Around 100 of those arrests, the Chief said, were juveniles.

That’s around 67%  if you do the math. So far this year, 14 of the 18 carjacking arrests have been juveniles, the chief said.

"We have to look at the case beyond the point of the arrest and see what is actually happening. And what does that measure of accountability look like? I would dare say that the numbers are probably greater than," Contee said.

The police chief gave the example that if a victim is unable to identify the suspect presented, the suspect is then charged with Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle (UUV), a charge Contee said most young people would like to be released on.

Both the Chief and Mayor have pointed to the courts before in their calls for greater accountability. Juveniles are hard to track through the court system, due to the District’s very strict privacy laws around those kept in the juvenile system.

"Maybe it’s a diversion, which happens, okay? If it’s prosecuted, it goes to the court. The court can say, ‘No, this isn’t for us. You – we’re going to divert to this other agency.’ It could happen. And you know juvenile crimes are prosecuted locally. They’re prosecuted by the Attorney General for the District. So what happened? Those are questions that we have to ask," said Mayor Bowser.

The mayor also took a couple of swipes at the attorney general, who previously proposed a change that would require all juveniles to go through the juvenile system first. 


D.C. law currently allows those 16 and 17 years old to be tried as adults, depending on the crime. The Mayor stated the District doesn’t even have complete supervision of juveniles.

"We want it, but that’s up to the courts, the Superior Court. That’s their charge. So there’s a lot of the big part of this ecosystem that’s important," she said.  

Attorney General Karl Racine's office issued the following statement to Fox 5: 

"The Office of Attorney General aggressively prosecutes all violent crimes committed by juveniles where we have strong evidence, as the standard of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt, and where the arrest process is constitutional. Anyone, including young people, who commit violent crimes should be held accountable. And we help them get the services and support they need, so they are less likely to reoffend which makes our communities safer. 

"The increases in violence including homicides over the last several years require leadership and a clear, consistent, all-hands-on-deck response. Everyone who has a role in keeping our city safe needs to work together, not point fingers."

We did also reach out to multiple city agencies. None were able to confirm at the time of this report, whether the three teenage suspects were held or released after appearing in court.