DC police: 52% of murder suspects have prior gun arrests

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Police Chief Cathy Lanier have released eye-opening statistics on the people behind much of the gun violence in the city.

The numbers appear to show that illegal firearms are easy to obtain and many of the criminals using them have been arrested with guns before. In the last 11 days, D.C. police officers have taken 83 illegal guns off the streets. In addition, city leaders said 21 suspects arrested for murder so far this year were under court supervisions as well as 26 victims.

One of those repeat offenders, according to police, is Bijon Brown, a man who is wanted for shooting into a Metrobus on August 21, wounding a victim who was not the intended target.

According to court documents, Brown opened fire on two brothers last March, injuring one, over a long-standing dispute between Elvans Road SE and Pomeroy Road SE. Brown was arrested, pleaded guilty and expressed remorse and regret for what he did. In July, he was given a suspended sentence and probation.

"While we keep increasing our efforts and keep increasing the number of guns recovered, the number of arrests that we are making and the number of homicide cases that we are closing, we need everybody else to step up to the plate with us because we can't do this alone," said Chief Lanier.

At D.C. police headquarters, the city's mayor and police chief showed off dozens of illegal weapons taken off the streets in recent months, including long guns and lots of semiautomatic pistols. So far this year, 10 homicide suspects and six victims had prior murder charges, officials said. In addition, 52 percent of homicide suspects have had prior gun arrests compared to just 27 percent at the same time last year.

"To take guns off the same person over and over and over again is just unacceptable -- that we are putting our police officers at that level of risk and our community at that level of risk," said Chief Lanier.

And while the police do their job, Mayor Bowser has outlined her own strategy, which includes increased penalties for crimes on public transit, new penalties for gun violations and testing for synthetic drugs.