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 / Updated  / Source: NBC Washington
By NBC News

Police Chief Cathy Lanier says repeat violent offenders on the streets, an influx of high-powered guns and the prevalence of synthetic drugs are all factors in the homicide increase in the District of Columbia.

Homicides are up 31 percent over the same time last year. Lanier said in an appearance Tuesday on NewsChannel 8's "NewsTalk'' program that arrests for homicide are up 34 percent.

Lanier says some people who've been arrested have had more than a dozen previous arrests for violent crime, including some who've previously been charged with murder.

Lanier says four slayings have been linked to synthetic drugs. She says eight slayings have been linked to illegal dice games, including the fatal shooting of an American University student who was apparently caught in crossfire on Saturday.

Related: D.C. Chief: Repeat Offenders Driving Increase in Homicides

Matthew Shlonsky, a recent American University graduate was fatally shot outside the Shaw-Howard University Metro station. Shlonsky, 23, was an unintended target in the shooting, police said.

"Matt was a talented young man with a bright future who was taken from us too soon. He was an outstanding intern for me in Washington," said Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.

Some of the high profile shootings have involved teen offenders.

A woman shot along with two children in an apartment in Southeast D.C. Monday afternoon has died, and one of the injured juveniles has been charged with her murder, police said. Lanier said a 17-year-old boy was in a dispute with his 12-year-old neighbor when he went to the younger boy's apartment with a gun on Tuesday afternoon.

Shots were fired and both boys were wounded, along with the 12-year-old's mother, 31-year-old Tenika Fontanelle.

Related: Man Shot in Front of D.C. Church in District's 95th Homicide of Year

In the 95th homicide in the District this year, a man was shot to death in Southeast D.C. Tuesday afternoon and collapsed on the steps of a church.

Amari Jenkins, 21, was shot multiple times about 12:10 p.m. on the 4900 block of East Capitol Street SE and then collapsed on the steps of St. Luke Roman Catholic Church, police said.