WASHINGTON – Columbia Heights residents in northwest Washington are wary after police have failed to solve two murders that occurred just 12 hours and one mile apart nearly a month after they occurred.
Alejandra Coronado-Cardona, 37, was found dead in the 3300 block of Sherman Avenue March 8 of stab wounds. Twelve hours prior, Deonte Bethea, 30, died of multiple gunshot wounds at Center and Ogden streets on the eastside of Columbia Heights.
Even though the Metropolitan Police Department has offered a $25,000 reward to encourage those with knowledge in Cardona's murder to come forward, so far they have not made an arrest in either murder.
The failure to apprehend a suspect is cause for serious concern, according to Bernard Langley, a Columbia Road resident.
"This happened right up the street from where I live so, yeah, I'm concerned,” Langley said. “Thankfully, my family hasn't been affected, but still, it happened right there and that's too close. They gotta do something. It's too much now."
Malcolm Thomas shared Langley's concern.
"There's way too much crime in this area, and the police need to be doing more,” Thomas said. “How am I supposed to feel safe here when people are being killed at places I frequent and businesses I patronize? What more is it gonna take."
Murders have declined dramatically in the District over the past 20 years, falling from 365 in 1995 to 104 last year, even as the District’s population has been on the rise.
The March 8 murders are just two of the four that have occurred in Ward 1 since the New Year, according to Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Thu Nguyen, but Nguyen said at the current rate, Ward 1 could soon meet last year's homicide total with the addition of another murder.
According to ANC Commissioner Darwain Frost, the police, in conjunction with the ANC, arein the process of implementing several additional actions to ease anxiety amongst residents and spur safety increase throughout Ward 1. The first is a monthly informational session.
"The police come and inform the community of various crimes taking place as well as do walk-throughs of how to be safe when walking around,” Frost said. “They recognize that there is a problem and are working diligently to help solve it."
Uwhankebe Anana, a two-year District resident, said that community outreach is necessary.
"Whoever is in charge of safety protocol needs to let people know what's going on,” Anana said. “Whether it's by way of flyers and other handbills or meetings, people have to know what's happening. Keeping people updated is the only way to expect a safety improvement, otherwise you can forget it."
Anyone with information about the murders of Coronado-Cardona or Bethea is asked to call police at 202-727-9099. Callers who provide information that leads to an arrest and conviction can receive a reward up to $25,000. Anonymous information may be submitted via text by messaging 50411.