White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday weighed in on recent high-profile shootings in Washington, DC, after a Thursday daylight fusillade that sent diners scrambling from the restaurant where President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris recently dined.
The dinnertime shooting on DC’s 14th Street about a mile north of the White House startled bystanders, including prominent political journalists who circulated footage of the gunshots and the flight of would-be assassins who wounded two people.
“A lot of us live there or live in the neighboring communities or know people who are on 14th Street or in the neighboring areas — and for people who are not, who are watching or hearing this, who are not from those neighborhoods, there’s a lot of restaurants there, a lot of foot traffic, this is a pretty popular part of the city many of us live in,” Psaki said at her daily press briefing.
Psaki said Biden’s recently announced push to encourage cities to use federal funds to hire more cops amid rising violent crime and initiatives to curb illegal gun trafficking are aimed at addressing such violence.
“We’re just implementing our strategy, which is a multi-pronged effort to work in partnership with local leaders including Mayor [Muriel] Bowser, who has been a great partner to us in this effort to address gun violence that’s rising in cities across the country including Washington. And the events of the last week are just examples of that,” Psaki said.
The shooting Thursday night occurred at an intersection adjacent to Le Diplomate, where Biden on May 31 had his first — and thus far only — sit-down meal as president at a DC restaurant. CNN reporter Jim Acosta tweeted a video from the restaurant’s outdoor seating area, showing diners fleeing amid the boom of gunshots.
At the same intersection, a 53-year-old father of two who worked for the Peace Corps was shot dead on June 29 when he was struck by a stray bullet as he and his wife left dinner.
The Thursday night shooting followed a series of other high-profile shootings that unnerved residents. On Saturday night, a shootout outside a Nationals baseball game injured three people and sent thousands of fans scrambling for shelter. One day prior, a 6-year-old girl was fatally shot nearby.
Psaki said that “the cornerstone of the president’s comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence is providing communities with the tools and resources they need to reduce gun crime, including in Washington, DC.”
“DC is one of the five areas nation wide where DOJ launched gun trafficking strike forces just yesterday, which are going to force focus local law enforcement resources across jurisdictions to keep guns out of the hands of criminals,” Psaki said.
“Washington, DC, is also taking advantage of the historic funding that they’ve gotten through the rescue plan to bolster public safety. So Mayor Bowser’s budget proposal would invest $59 million from the rescue plan to reduce violent crime. It would add 100 new slots to the cadet program and add $14 million for youth safety initiatives. So we’re certainly seeing this and feeling this even in our community here and it is one of the cities that DOJ is focused on.”