Arrest Made in 9-Year-Old's Death

Residents say gangs run apartment building

Just hours after a vigil was held in memory of a slain 9-year-old child, an arrest was made in his death.

Police arrested Josue Pena, 26, early Tuesday morning and charged him with first-degree murder in the death of Oscar Fuentes. Pena is said to also go by the nickname of "Sicopata" (Spanish for "pyscho"). The suspect is described by some as the bully of the apartment building located at 14th Street N.W. and Columbia Road, where Fuentes was killed.

"There are few crimes which have ever risen to the level of heinous tragedy as much as this one," said Mayor Adrian Fenty at a press conference.

The child was shot and killed Saturday night through the front door of his family's Columbia Heights apartment. Witnesses say that Pena grabbed an eldery man by the hair in an attempted robbery. It was then, they say, that Oscar Fuentes and family members encountered Pena as they arrived home after a baby shower. Pena allegedly threatened them, saying "Your money or your life," and the family ran into their apartment, closed and locked the door. Investigators believe that Pena fired a shot through the door, which killed Oscar Fuentes.

Pena was arrested at 5:50 a.m. Tuesday, as he slept in the storage room of a Hyattsville apartment.

Also early Tuesday, police searched a home on Kenyon Street N.W., where some of Pena's relatives live. Police say they found the murder weapon in the house, hidden under a mattress.

People who live in the building said tenants have been dealing with a gang problem. More than 100 fire code violations were also found in the building, which is located along Columbia Road.

City officials say the gang problem has to stop. Tenants said the apartment building is controlled by gang members, who are even collecting extra rent from those who live there.

"We're going to get rid of the people in gangs who are living in the building," Councilman Jim Graham said.

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District officials said Pena is a known associate of MS-13, but did not say he was a gang member. They said he is responsible for a number of robberies in the neighborhood.

"We are grieving the loss of our darling son Oscar, who was the light of our lives," said the family of Oscar Fuentes in a statement. "We would like for everyone to remember him as the curious, happy and smart boy that he was. He was a great student, amazing son, loyal friend, loved by all who knew him and a delight to his family."

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