(WASHINGTON) — Two children were shot and injured overnight in Washington, D.C., during two separate incidents Sunday and Monday, police said, describing both girls as innocent bystanders.
The latest string of shootings comes as D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser unveiled new legislative efforts aimed at increasing public safety ahead of her testimony to lawmakers during a House Oversight Committee hearing scheduled for Tuesday.
A 10-year-old girl was shot in the upper body while driving home with family following Mother’s Day celebrations at 9 p.m. on Sunday, police said. The family realized the girl had been shot and drove her to a local firehouse, and then she was taken to a hospital, where she remains in critical condition, police told ABC News. The Metropolitan Police Department said it doesn’t believe the family was an intended target and the girl was “accidentally hit in a barrage of gunfire.”
Hours later, at 4:15 a.m. Monday, a 12-year-old girl was shot after a bullet went through the window of her home and struck her in the leg as she was sleeping, according to D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee. The 12-year-old was transported with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
No arrests have been made and both cases are still under investigation, authorities said. City leaders pleaded with the public to provide information on the recent shootings.
Contee told reporters Monday that both shootings were “unacceptable.” He added, “We have been focusing on a whole-of-government approach to keeping our community safe.”
Speaking directly to the community, Contee said: “We truly need the community’s help with that case. To the cowards who fired those shots: You hit a 10-year-old child. I’m asking for the community’s help.”
On Friday, there was another string of shootings: Three men and one woman were injured during four separate shootings in an hour across the district. The first of the four incidents happened at 11:35 a.m., the last at 12:31 p.m.
Violent crime in the district is up 13% from this time last year, according to data from the Metropolitan Police Department.
During a press conference Monday, Bowser addressed the public’s frustration: “I would say if they’re hearing gunshots and a child and their community became a victim, I completely understand a frustration with crime. And we’re going to do everything that we can with the resources available to stop it.”
In response to growing calls for action, the mayor announced new legislative efforts on Monday. She is expected to answer additional questions from congressional lawmakers on violence in the district on Tuesday during a House hearing titled Overdue Oversight of the Capitol City.
Bowser says the new legislation is aimed at increasing public safety. The new initiatives will work to determine who should be held in jail ahead of trials, make updates to domestic violence laws including making strangulation a felony, and increase penalties for assaults of transit workers and crimes against vulnerable adults and people with disabilities. The mayor’s new legislative effort will also seek to harshen penalties for firearms and ghost guns, officials said Monday.
The mayor told reporters: “We proudly, of course, in our city believe in second chances, but we also believe in accountability.”
The mayor was asked if she felt her newest legislative efforts would allay some Republicans who have had serious issues with crime in the district while blocking the city’s effort to update D.C.’s criminal code for the first time since 1901.
“I’m less concerned about their concerns,” Bowser said. “I’m more concerned about the 700,000 people who live here, the two little girls that the chief just described who have the right to be safe in their homes.”
She added, “I’m concerned, as well, to set the record straight with members of the Congress. We are experiencing a dangerous trend in some crimes in the city.” Bowser said crimes in D.C. are not unlike some cities across the country, however, regarding the hearing Tuesday, she added: “We’re going to be clear about what we’re doing to address it.”
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