Photo by Patrick Lewis

Image courtesy of Patrick D. Lewis

By Patrick D. Lewis

The new Office of Emergency Management (OEM) emailed the Catholic University community on Tuesday, October 24, stating that there had been reports of gunshots to the east of campus.

However, the MPD stated they had no record of a call for shots fired in the area at that time. 

The OEM email noted that the shots were audible from campus and that the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) had not confirmed that shots had been fired. This incident, along with many others in the past few months, hints at the rise in crime around campus and continues to raise safety concerns for members of the Catholic University of America (CUA) community.

Several students around campus heard shots around the time OEM stated in its email. 

Claire McGee, a sophomore who lives in Centennial Village, said, “I was laying in bed and heard something. I was like, ‘that sounded like gunshots.’” 

According to DC Police statistics for June through October 2023, violent crime in the city increased by 64% compared to the same period last year. Statistics for the previous five months in Ward 5, the part of the city that CUA is located in, shows a 54% uptick in violent crime, including 17 homicides, 93 assaults with a deadly weapon (made up primarily of stabbings and shootings), and 159 armed robberies. 

One incident reported by the University was an October 16 robbery on 8th Street, three blocks south of Monroe Street. OEM’s information alert said that “two members of the University community were impacted.” The MPD report narrative says that three suspects approached the two victims and assaulted them before making off with their backpacks, credit cards, iPhones, and other valuables.

Although federal law requires universities to alert students about  major crimes on and near campus, done at CUA via “information alerts” from OEM and the Department of Public Safety (DPS), cross-referencing DC Police statistics and emails from DPS and OEM show an alarming number of crimes near campus that the university did not report. 

The most serious of these was a double shooting that happened on Michigan Avenue just two blocks east of campus on October 24 around 9:00 p.m. The MPD report says that officers arrived on the scene to find one victim suffering from multiple gunshot wounds and discovered that a second victim, who was shot once, drove to the hospital. No suspect information was given.

In addition to the violent incidents, DC Police statistics show that property crimes have increased near campus as well. One report from MPD shows that a rental vehicle was broken into and stolen. The report lists the location of the incident as “Catholic University of America Hartke Theatre,” which would place the vehicle theft on campus. 

DPS did not offer any statements on these incidents.

With rising crime across DC, efforts towards stopping the increasing trends have been made both on campus and by the DC Government.

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