Two men have died after being found shot in an SUV Sunday night in Southeast D.C., police say.
Officers responded to the 500 block of 11th Street SE in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, southeast of Eastern Market, at about 8:25 p.m. They found two men with gunshot wounds inside a crashed SUV, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) said.
One of the men died at the scene; the other was taken to a hospital, where he later died, police said.
The victims' vehicle, a black Cadillac Escalade, crashed into several parked cars in the neighborhood at the time of the shooting. A third man, who had been in the SUV with the victims, was found at the scene and taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries from the crash. Those injuries were not life-threatening, police said.
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Police believe the Escalade was targeted, they said Monday afternoon.
Multiple sources familiar with the investigation told News4 one of the passengers in the rear seat was the target and that the man killed in the front seat was working as a for-hire driver.
“This is a tragedy, and I'm so hurt, my heart is broken that I'm standing in front of you guys again, talking about gun violence. Any loss of life is just one too many. We do everything that we can to keep communities and our visitors safe," an MPD spokesperson said.
Police identified one of the men who was killed as 34-year-old Othaniel Gaither, of Southeast D.C. Police have not yet released the second victim's name as they still need to notify the victim's family.
"We don't believe it was random because of evidence that we have," MPD Capt. Kevin Kentish said. "We have viewed video footage, and we have evidence that shows this was not just a coincidence."
The gunfire stretched for blocks along 11th Street SE, from M Street SE to Pennsylvania Avenue SE, police said.
People in the area, including officers, said they heard multiple gunshots and the SUV crash.
The aftermath of the crime was still visible a day later, with bullet holes in cars and the window of a nearby medical clinic. Evidence markers remained in the street. The parked cars struck by the Escalade looked battered in the morning, while glass remained strewn across the street.
Neighbors visited the scene on Monday to assess the damage to their property, speak to officers and receive help moving their cars.
Guillermo Ventura, who works at a local restaurant, said he returned Monday to find his car badly damaged, with a bullet hole in it.
"My car is completely destroyed," Ventura said. "And so I'm going to lose the hard work for the past five years that I've been doing, in just one night."
It was just after 8:25 p.m. that neighbors went outside to find another violent night unfolding in the city, this time in front of their homes
"Three bursts of gunfire, about 15 to 20 rounds," said neighborhood resident Michael Ford.
Another neighbor, Dustin Stonecipher, heard the gunfire a few blocks away, before he heard more gunfire right in front of his house.
"We were putting my son to bed, so I came down, and then I heard a loud crash and louder gunshots," Stonecipher said. "Shocking, obviously, to see and hear."
The affected stretch of 11th Street SE was closed while police investigated. Officers have yet to identify a suspect. A weapon was recovered at the scene.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 202-727-9099. Those wishing to remain anonymous may submit information to the department's text tip line by texting 50411.
D.C. police offer a reward of up to $25,000, to anyone who provides information leading to an arrest and conviction in homicides committed in the District. Police said the total possible reward in this case is $50,000.
Sunday night's killings come as the District has seen a dramatic increase in the number of homicides this year, compared to last year. D.C. had 36 murders as of this time last year, compared to 47 so far this year.