Suspect Arrested in U Street Funeral Shooting

By Kriston Capps
|  Wednesday, Sep 29, 2010  |  Updated 8:54 PM EDT
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Police make one arrest in a death following a <a title=U Street Corridor funeral." />

Police make one arrest in a death following a U Street Corridor funeral.

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Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier announced the arrest of 21-year-old Brandon Miller in the death of Jamal Coates in a shooting that followed a funeral yesterday at 13th and U streets NW.

Chief Lanier said that D.C. police arrested Miller, who hailed from the 2100 block of Girard Street, last night at about 9:30 p.m., with help from the community. He was charged with first-degree murder while armed.

She called for witnesses to come forward to help with the investigation, which is ongoing. Police believe one more suspect may have been involved. Chief Lanier asked for any witnesses who saw the 2001 white Buick with D.C. tags used to flee the scene of the shooting to contact police to assist with the case.

Anyone who thinks he may have seen the car should call police at 202-727-9099.

Chief Lanier said that Third District uniformed officers worked around the clock with detectives from the homicide, gang intelligence and gun units to make the arrest. Miller will be arraigned today.

She said that police do not believe the shooting was connected to the funeral of 21-year-old Ashley McRae, which had just let out at Walker Memorial Baptist Church in the 2000 block of 13th Street. Chief Lanier noted that the Sept. 18 shooting of McRae was closed with the arrest of 21-year-old Damon Sams on Friday.

McRae's death was described as domestic in nature, not gang related, and Chief Lanier said that yesterday's shooting was likely not gang related but motivated by some other dispute. Witnesses said that members of rival crews may have attended the funeral. 

Mayor Adrian Fenty said he could not remember another shooting taking place so close to the scene of a funeral. He noted that a gristly March 30 incident in Southeast, one that began at the unit block of Galveston Street SW and saw four people shot and killed, also followed a funeral, but the shootings took place after the fact and away from the site.

"What happened on U Street was one of the most brazen shootings that's ever happened in D.C.," said Mayor Fenty.

Panic seized the busy lunchtime scene at 13th and U Street after the alleged shooter opened fire at an SUV presumably joining McRae's funeral procession after noon yesterday. Shots were fired in the 1900 block of 13th Street. The driver of the SUV sped on to U Street and collided with two other vehicles. The SUV flipped onto its roof near 11th and U streets.

Two occupants of the SUV were struck by gunfire. One was taken to an area hospital. Coates, 21, of Northwest, was pronounced dead at the scene. It remains unclear whether he died from gunshot injuries or injuries sustained in the crash.

Police raided Miller's home Tuesday night and recovered five guns. They also recovered the white Buick believed to be the getaway vehicle, News4's Pat Collins reported.

A gun also was found in the victims' SUV.

The shooting allegedly stemmed from an argument two months ago between rival neighborhood crews, Collins reported.

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