D.C. Had 48 Mass Shootings in the Last Six Years

A grocery store. A gas station. A barbershop. A non-denominational church. Homicides are on the rise in Washington, DC and mass shootings are one of the causes. Neighborhoods spanning across the District have been ravaged by mass shootings in the last six years. D.C Witness documented and analyzed every single one that has occurred in the last six years. 

The number of incidents varies when addressing mass shootings. The FBI and other organizations define it as any incident with four or more victims hit by gunfire. D.C. Witness follows this definition.  

This means that while there has yet to be an incident with four or more people killed during the last six years- there have been 48 incidents where four or more people were hit by gunfire. But the yearly rate of mass shootings is only rising. Washington, DC saw the highest number of mass shootings in 2021 with 14 incidents.   

On July 4, 2015, a mass shooting took place near a school in the Barry Farm neighborhood in Southeast DC. 

Harry Herbert and Shakim Lyons, who were 28 and 26, respectively at the time, came into view of a surveillance camera at 7:13 p.m. while on a sidewalk on the 2600 block of Douglass Place, SE. They stop briefly before entering a building nearby.

The camera captured two suspects leaving the building three hours later, walking and conversing. A few minutes after the men left, they began to physically fight. As others quickly gathered around to watch, the fight escalated into a gunfight that included two different groups of people. 

More than 100 shots were fired from the two suspects and two others.

Dwayne Dillard, 23, was shot on the side of his body and killed during the altercation. Three others were also shot, including Lyons, who was shot in the eye and later charged with second-degree murder while armed along with Herbert and James Coffield, who was 23 at the time.   

 A witness told officers that Lyons and Jonathan Taylor, who was 24 at the time, were on opposite sides of the shootout. The witness also said Herbert was firing at Taylor and another person on his side of the fight.

Herbert, Coffield and Lyons later pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. Herbert was sentenced to 11 years, Coffield to seven-and-a-half years and Lyons to two years in prison.

Taylor also pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in relation to the mass shooting but was sentenced to six years. He was also sentenced in a separate incident to 40 years in prison for first-degree murder in relation to the 2014 death of 25-year-old Dexter Motley, D.C. Witness previously reported. 

Dillard is not the only person to die from a gunshot wound incurred during a mass shooting in Washington since 2015. D.C. Witness found that 28 people have died in mass shootings and 221 others have been injured in the last six years.

 

But only 37% of the mass shootings in the District in the last six years have led to an arrest. And even when a suspect is arrested, prosecutors may make the cases inactive, meaning cases can be suspended for any reason. 

One mass shooting without an arrest left 21 people with gunshot wounds and one teenager dead. According to documents from the MPD, hundreds of people were gathered on Aug. 9, 2020, in a Southeast neighborhood located in Greenway for a block party when at least four gunmen opened fire, shooting more than 100 bullets into the crowd. 

 The organizer had been denied an event permit due to the 50-person limit Mayor Muriel Bowser set on events amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Former MPD Police Chief Peter Nesham held a press conference with Mayor Bowser in the wake of the mass shooting and focused their concerns on the violence itself rather than the illegal gathering.  

Like many other mass shooting incidents, there have been no arrests in relation to this shooting. Christopher Brown was just 17 years old when he was shot and killed that night. But he is not the only young person to be killed in a mass shooting. Six victims under the age of eighteen have been killed in mass shootings. 

Mass shootings are affecting the younger population more than homicides, according to D.C. Witness data. The average age of both victims and suspects arrested was just 23 years old. This is significantly younger than the average homicide age of 32.  Less than half of these incidents have someone dying due to gunshot wounds. 

Ten mass shooting investigations have been closed before an arrest was made, while many still remain open. 

On Oct. 25, 2015, five people were shot in the Washington Highlands neighborhood, which is also located in Southeast DC. Multiple vehicles were hit, but nobody died from their gunshot wounds. The investigation was closed two months later without an arrest. The motive for the shooting is unknown. 

Check out our interactive map to see all of the mass shooting incidents that have happened in DC over the last six years.