20 Homicides Happened in December

Exactly half of December’s homicides took place after Dec. 19, including three fatal shootings before 1 a.m. on Dec. 20. 

Police say 27-year-old Nycholas Hester and 25-year-old Johnny Coles exchanged gunfire inside of a residence on the 1400 block of P Street, NW, according to a press release. Samuel Hernandez, a 17-year-old Maryland resident, was also shot on the 200 block of Allison Street, NW. 

These were just three of the twenty homicides that occurred in DC during the month of December, according to D.C. Witness data as of Jan. 6. Homicides rose by 54 percent in December compared to November.

Hernandez was one of two 17-year-old teenagers killed in December. The average age of homicide victims during the month was approximately 31 years old.

The oldest victim, Sylvia Matthews, was 71 years old when she was killed. Detectives said they believe her homicide was domestic in nature.

In the late morning hours of Dec. 3, officers received a 911 call for a suspected burglary on Elmira Street, SW, according to court documents. A witness told officers that she believed Matthews was being held hostage.

Officers entered a residential building through its rear door and found Matthews at the bottom of the basement stairs. He weas suffering from severe head trauma. They also found 66-year-old Michael Garrett, who called Matthews his ex-girlfriend, in the basement, according to court documents. Garrett was arrested and charged with assault with intent to kill while armed with a cane.

On Dec. 4, Matthews succumbed to her injuries. Garrett’s charges were upgraded to second-degree murder while armed. He is being held in custody while he awaits his next hearing, which is scheduled for Feb. 23. 

Shootings once again accounted for the cause of death in a large majority of homicides. All but three victims were shot in December. This is a trend that has been seen every month and year since at least 2015.

Two victims were also stabbed: 36-year-old Musse Belete on Dec. 28 and 43-year-old Dion Thompson-Moore on Christmas Eve. 

Thompson-Moore’s stabbing was one of two homicides that took place on Christmas Eve Day. However, none occurred on Christmas Day. D.C. Witness previously found that from 2015 to 2020, Christmas was the only major holiday with no homicides.

The year closed out with 227 homicides. That’s more than any year before since 2003, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.