Washington, D.C. is dealing with a "crime explosion," according to Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares who sent a letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser Thursday urging her to fix it.
Miyares says D.C.'s crime problem has become Virginia's crime problem, and Bowser and the city council have lost control protecting residents and the thousands of Virginians who commute into the District for work or entertainment.
"I refuse to stand by quietly as you continue to deny, reject, and refuse to address your very prevalent crime spike that is impacting D.C. residents and its visitors and commuters," the letter reads. "Your unwillingness to enforce your laws and hold violent offenders responsible puts your residents and mine at risk."
At the core of Miyares' scathing letter was compassion for a Harrisburg, Virginia woman named Christy Bautista who was stabbed multiple times over the weekend in her Ivy City Hotel room. Bautista was visiting the city to see a concert.
"An innocent woman lost her life to someone who should have been in jail," he said. "Her murder is a tragedy that should have never happened."
The Virginia AG also pointed to an incident over the summer where an Arlington woman was harassed on the Metro, and four specific instances over the last three years when Virginia residents were murdered in D.C.
"As the chief law enforcement officer for the Commonwealth of Virginia, I feel responsible for the safety of all 8.642 million Virginians," Miyares wrote.
According to the AG, D.C. Council Chairman Mendelson is denying that D.C. has a "crime crisis."
The letter refers to Metropolitan Police Department data that states D.C. has seen two consecutive years of over 200 homicides, which according to MPD hasn't happened in nearly two decades. The increase in carjackings, sexual assaults and motor vehicle thefts are all areas of concern for Miyares.
"To keep our communities safe – Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia - we need to work together to address the issue of rising crime. But that means acknowledging it is a problem and committing to finding a solution rather than sweeping it under the rug," Miyares wrote. "Our nation’s capital should be a beacon of hope and freedom for the entire world, not known as a place where attending a concert can end one’s life."
Mendelson responded to Miyares Thursday evening, releasing the following statement:
"Today’s letter from Attorney General Jason Miyares was a complete shock. The Attorney General has never reached out to me to discuss any concerns he might really have regarding crime in DC.
Although he did not ask to meet, I do. I would like us to discuss how Virginia can work with the District to address the issue of rising crime – an issue across the country. Indeed, given the pipeline of illegal firearms flowing into the District from the Commonwealth, he is in a position to stop that flow, to stop the gun violence in our city by holding Virginia arms dealers accountable.
I would like also to join forces with AG Miyares to press the U.S. Attorney to prosecute more aggressively. The man who murdered Christy Bautista last weekend was on the streets because the federal prosecutors (who prosecute all of our felonies) plea bargained his arrest for armed robbery with gun to a lesser offense, because a federally appointed judge released him from custody pending sentencing, and because the federal marshals had not apprehended him when he skipped a court date.
The only role of the District in that case was to arrest him, which we did. Working together could be productive. I look forward to AG Miyares following up."
Read Miyares' full letter below: