DC Mayor Bowser appoints city’s first gun-violence prevention coordinator

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has announced a major step in the city’s effort to curb gun violence, two days after a 15-year-old was shot to death in Southeast.

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On Thursday, Bowser appointed Linda Harllee Harper to the position of "gun violence prevention coordinator" – the first position of its kind in the nation’s capital.

The hire signals a renewed commitment to halting the endemic violence that led to nearly 200 deaths in the District last year – including many young people.

READ MORE: Police ID 15-year-old shot, killed in Southeast DC; $25K reward offered

Harper currently serves as the Senior Deputy Director of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services in D.C.

The mayor said Harper will handle "strategic development review and implementation of our gun violence prevention efforts."

A veteran of D.C.’s education system and reform efforts in the juvenile justice system, Bowser said Harper "certainly has a heart for our communities and those impacted by violence, as evidenced by her long career helping young people."

The appointment comes two days after a 15-year-old was shot to death in Southeast – a homicide that Acting Chief Robert Contee says highlights the persistence of the scourge of violence among the city’s youth.

READ MORE: DC teen’s murder brings violence against the youth back into focus, acting chief says

"I really just think it speaks to the level of violence that we cannot forget about in our city. We ended last year with homicides occurring in our city last year. And while the media may have been a little distracted by some of the things that have been going on with respect to some of the things that are going on downtown, the inauguration, what happened at the Capitol - we can’t forget about what’s happening in our communities," Contee said on Wednesday.

Fifteen-year-old Jamarid Robinson of Southeast died of a gunshot wound Tuesday night, after he’d been taken to a local hospital.

But his death was just the latest in a string of homicides against young people – many much younger than Robinson.