Washington DC

18-Year-Old Arrested, Charged With Killing Woman in DC Days Inn: Police

Gerald Thomas, of Temple Hills, Maryland, was wanted for second-degree murder while armed for the Jan. 27 shooting.

An 18-year-old man has been arrested in the shooting at a Northwest Washington, D.C., hotel last month that left a woman dead and several others injured, police said.

Gerald Thomas, of Temple Hills, Maryland, was arrested Saturday morning on charges of second-degree murder while armed. The arrest came a day after D.C. police announced they were looking for Thomas.

The shooting occurred in the early morning of Jan. 27 in the Days Inn located at 4400 Connecticut Avenue NW, in the Van Ness neighborhood.

According to court documents, Thomas tried to crash a party because his girlfriend was there, got into an argument at the door and opened fire, killing 20-year-old Dasha Cleary of Waldorf, Maryland. Cleary appears to have been a bystander in the room, court documents suggest.

Information on how Thomas was found wasn't immediately released.

Charging documents shed light on how the deadly shooting unfolded during a surprise birthday party with upwards of a dozen people inside the fifth-floor room.

Detectives believe Thomas was trying to get into that party to see his girlfriend because he was angry she was there while other men were present. The girlfriend told detectives Thomas came to get her because he thought she was cheating on him, according to court documents.

When Thomas attempted to get inside the hotel room, there was an argument at the door and Thomas began firing, charging documents say. After examining bullet holes, detectives deduced that one of the injured men inside the hotel room returned fire toward Thomas before fleeing the hotel, court documents say.

According to a victim’s statement reported in court documents, Cleary was dancing at the back of the hotel room when gunfire erupted. She was shot in the head one time, the medical examiner said, and later pronounced dead at a hospital. It appears she was not involved in the dispute at the door.

Two men sought treatment on their own and suffered injuries that were not life-threatening, authorities said. No charges have been brought against anyone accused of returning fire.

Officers responded at about 3:30 a.m. and found a horrific scene: Three women were shot, with at least one in the lobby and another in a room, police said. The hotel room was covered in blood, according to court documents.

Thomas’ girlfriend was one of the women critically injured in the shooting. She is expected to survive after surgery, court documents indicate.

The arrest affidavit includes text messages obtained by detectives between Thomas and his girlfriend’s mother. Thomas allegedly wrote: “I’m so so so sorry this is happening, they tried to kill me” and “I’m going to jail.”

Surveillance video from the hotel helped detectives identify Thomas.

Residents in Northwest D.C. have safety concerns after a woman was killed and four others injured in a shooting at a Days Inn hotel on Connecticut Avenue next to many popular businesses. News4's Cory Smith reports.

The Days Inn is located in a commercial area with some homes and several businesses. Authorities said after the shooting that members of the community had complained about the hotel before.

Records show D.C. police had been called to the hotel 278 times in the two years leading up to the January shooting. Authorities said it was a big increase over previous years. According to Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee, the hotel’s address has been subject to 73 calls for service since July for incidents ranging from welfare checks to assaults to drug complaints.

The majority of calls police have responded to at the hotel are for what’s listed as “disorderly disturbance.”

D.C. police have been called to the Days Inn where one woman was killed and four people were injured in a shooting hundreds of times in two years. News4's Jackie Bensen reports neighbors say the city needs to do more to keep people safe.
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