On May 6, just after 9 a.m., gunmen in Southeast DC opened fire on people standing near a bus stop on Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, wounding three, including two 17-year-olds reported to be Ballou High School students. Nearby, Ballou and Imagine Southeast Public Charter School were put on lockdown as police searched for suspects.
In April, a man was shot and killed steps away from Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School in Northeast DC. Parents and neighbors said that kids were on the playground at the time, close enough to hear the gunfire before teachers rushed them inside. One parent, quoted in DCist, said that her 4-year-old son had nightmares following the shooting; another said that her daughter was afraid to go back to school.
For some DC students, nearby shootings like these are unfortunately common. Some schools have been in close range of as many as 16 incidents in the course of a school year, according to a newUrban Institute analysis. Even when there are no victims—when it’s just the sudden, loud sound of gunfire and the risk of being shot—everyday violence can have a profound effect on children.
“When people think about school violence, they think about mass shootings, which—as horrible as they are—are very rare events,” said Nancy La Vigne, director of the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center. “All too often, the children who are exposed to gun violence on a day-to-day basis are overlooked.”
To learn more about gunfire in DC, explore our interactive feature with maps and data visualization.