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Muriel Bowser and Cathy Lanier want to purge D.C. of gun violence and are asking for help.

At an impromptu press conference Thursday afternoon, the mayor and police chief addressed the spike in violent crime sweeping the District, focusing on two incidents that occurred in July. Both officials characterized the uptick in crime as a trend affecting other major American cities. Lanier said she will soon meet with other police chiefs whose cities are seeing more homicides, and she wants to send a message that “people are tired of the recklessness [and] the illegal guns.”

As of last week, D.C. had seen an 18 percent increase in murders, a 16 percent increase in armed robberies, and a 19 percent increase in armed assaults over 2014, according to WTOP. Nationally, experts say, it’s too early to determine whether the country is experiencing a crime wave.

Bowser’s and Lanier’s remarks came on the heels of the fatal shooting of three-year-old Dalis Cox, who died late Wednesday after being transported to Prince George’s Hospital Center from her home on the 600 block of 46th Place SE. Cox might have been killed by another young child playing with a firearm that authorities now know was unregistered. Lanier said police officers who were posted on the block transported Cox to the hospital instead of waiting for an ambulance to arrive, adding that police haven’t yet placed any criminal charges.

“My heart goes out to Dalis and her family,” Bowser said. “The gun should have never been in a place where it could have been accidentally or otherwise used to put a little girl in danger.”

Lanier also announced that police have arrested three men in relation to a July 4 shootout on the 2600 block of Douglass Place SE, in which 23-year-old Dwayne Gene Dillard was killed. Officials at the press conference showed a surveillance video of the incident featuring four “persons of interest” in the case:

“When we look at both of these cases, the issue is the proliferation of guns on our streets,” said D.C. Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, who chairs the council’s Committee on the Judiciary. “The callousness and indifference towards the life of human beings is something we have to improve upon.”

In addition to McDuffie, several high-profile D.C. officials attended the press conference, including fire chief Gregory Dean, deputy city administrator Kevin Donahue, and D.C. councilmembers Mary Cheh, Yvette Alexnder, Vincent Orange, and LaRuby May.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery