Man Shot While Biking Through Marvin Gaye Park

Victim hospitalized in critical condition.

By Mark Stephens
|  Tuesday, May 11, 2010  |  Updated 8:01 PM EDT
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Man Shot While Biking Through Marvin Gaye Park

Victim hospitalized in critical condition.

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Man Shot While Biking Through Marvin Gaye Park

A young man is in critical condition after he was shot in the head while riding a bike though Marvin Gaye Park in Northeast.
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A young man was hospitalized in critical condition after he was shot in the head while riding a bike though Marvin Gaye Park in Northeast.

The shooting happened just after 1 p.m. Tuesday, close to the park entrance at Fitch Place and Division Avenue.

Police from around the city, including chief Cathy Lanier, were on the scene. "We're very actively investigating and trying to recover any evidence," said Lanier.

So far, police have neither a motive nor a suspect.

Previously, Marvin Gaye Park was a federal park, offially known as Watts Branch Park. It was turned over to the District in the 1970s, and fell into disrepair. It was a hub for illegal activity and a dumping ground for trash.

An open air heroin market developed, and neighbors called it Needle Park because of the rampant drug use within its borders.

Then in 2001, a multi-year, multi-million dollar revitalization began. The park was renamed after the Motown legend. Gaye himself grew up in the East Capitol Dwellings near the east end of the park.

Neighbors recall him walking from his home to write songs, sing, and play music besides the stream. There's some thought his experiences there inspired some of his songs.

As part of the clean-up, thousands of volunteers removed more than 3.5 million pounds of trash, 13,000 hypodermic needles, and dozens of abandoned cars. They replanted thousands of trees.

Park caretaker Kenny Barbour said all that work is what makes Tuesday's shooting so unsettling: "It's disappointing to me."

"It's still a nice park," he said. "We want people to come out and enjoy themselves and be safe."

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