2021 | Police & Fire

Montgomery County hits three-decade high for homicides

There had been 35 through Thursday, according to police

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Montgomery County has recorded 35 homicides this year, according to Montgomery County police — more than in any single year in more than three decades.

Homicides in the past month include:

Officer Carlos Cortes-Vazquez, a police department spokesman, confirmed that 35 is the correct number for homicides as of Thursday. He did not elaborate on which were included or excluded in the total.

Earlier this year, the department had excluded two killings from the homicide count because they had been considered “justifiable.” The department has not specified which cases those were.

According to a County Council staff report prepared earlier this month for the Public Safety Committee, there have been three other years since 1990 in which 30 or more homicides were recorded. There were 34 in 1994, 32 in 2002 and 30 in 2015.

The staff report is based on FBI data. Included in the total for homicides in 2002 were the victims of the Beltway sniper attacks, which terrorized the D.C. region in October of that year.

The council report mentions that two homicides were ruled “justifiable” and not counted, but it does not specify which killings those were. When asked which homicides were in this category, police directed a reporter to the State’s Attorney’s Office.

Police also did not specify whether this year’s homicide total includes five fatal shootings by law enforcement officers that occurred in Montgomery County this year, the most recent of which happened Wednesday morning in Silver Spring.

In April, an off-duty Pentagon Protection Officer was charged with murdering two men in Takoma Park.

The rise in homicides in Montgomery County this year has been paralleled by spikes in other violent crimes such as carjackings, assaults and robberies. Multiple county officials have expressed concern over the trend.

Nearby Washington, D.C., also has seen a seen higher number of homicides this year — 220 through Dec. 26, which is the most since 2003, The Washington Post reported this week.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com