We Remember: A Letter from Homicide Watch DC

This past February, 18-year-old Cardozo High senior Lucki Pannell left this message on her Facebook wall:

Less than two hours later, Pannell was dead. Detectives said a man walked up to Pannell’s Columbia Heights porch, aimed a gun at Pannell and her friends, and fired.

She was ultimately one of 108 people killed this year in DC, the majority of them lost to gun violence.

Many cases, like Pannell’s, remain open without arrests. Others have been closed quickly. In DC courts, 70 people have been charged with murder or are awaiting murder charges in crimes committed in 2011.

For many in DC, the outer suburbs, and even farther away, the losses suffered this year are overwhelming. On Homicide Watch, where the panel of victim photos updates with each death, the march of young people across the site has been sobering: Of those killed this year, more than half have been under the age of thirty. The youngest homicide victim this year? Fifteen-year-old Isaiah Harris, who was killed in a double shooting in Truxton Circle in May.

Of course, violence struck more than just the young. Three senior citizens, aged 65 or older, were also killed this year. The oldest of them was 92-year-old Viola Drath.

Today we launch the start of a special year-in-review series featuring interviews, investigative reports, charts, roundups and more, all exploring this year in DC homicides.

Join us throughout the next week for guest columns from Mayor Vincent Gray and councilmen Jack Evans and Jim Graham, an interview with US Attorney Ronald Machen, an exploration of cold case investigations, a look at domestic violence and trans-gender homicides, a roundup of the year’s most talked about cases and other special features.

As 2011 comes to a close, we take this opportunity to remember Pannell, Harris, Drath, and the 106 others who lost their lives on DC’s streets this year. May their families find justice, and the District, peace.

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