Muriel Bowser

‘We've Got Our Man': Suspect Charged in 6-Year-Old Nyiah Courtney's Death

D.C.’s police chief also faulted 13 members of an alleged drug ring for the child’s death

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What to Know

  • A man is charged with killing 6-year-old Nyiah Courtney, D.C.'s police chief announced.
  • Thirteen people, including Courtney's father, were indicted in a drug investigation and bear partial responsibility for the child's death, the chief said.
  • Mayor Muriel Bowser is seeking $11 million in funds to hire more police officers.

A suspect has been charged in the shooting death of 6-year-old Nyiah Courtney, D.C.’s police chief announced Wednesday. 

Marktwan Hargraves, 22, of Waldorf, Maryland, is accused of killing the child in a drive-by shooting on July 16, Chief Robert Contee announced. 

“We’ve got our man,” he said. 

Hargraves was charged with first-degree murder while armed in the “senseless act of violence,” Contee said.

Detectives believe the family was targeted because of Hargraves’ alleged connection to drug dealing.

Two days before Courtney was shot and killed, her father, Nico Griffin, was indicted by a federal grand jury on drug trafficking charges. But a warrant for his arrest wasn’t issued right away. 

D.C. Chief of Police Robert Contee announced an arrest in the shooting death of 6-year-old Nyiah Courtney. Here's what he said.

Griffin was walking with his daughter and several others when a car drove up and opened fire.

Griffin and 12 other people were indicted after a long-running local and federal drug investigation in the D.C. area. Those 13 people are partially liable for Courtney’s death, the chief said. 

“They bear in part responsibility for the death of this 6-year-old,” he said.

The suspects were allegedly found to have guns, cash and drugs including cocaine, crack, heroin and PCP.

The night before Courtney was killed, a man was shot and wounded around the corner on Mellon Street SE. That man, Barry Tyson, was also named in the federal indictment.

It’s unclear how police were able to connect the dots. Hargraves is set to appear in court Thursday. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had a lawyer.

Mayor Muriel Bowser described a multi-pronged approach to tackling an “unacceptable level of gun violence.” A police budget reduction of $15 million in fiscal year 2021 harmed police recruitment, she argued. MPD usually brings on about 250 new officers per year. This year, they’ve had only 42 uniformed hires. 

Bowser will seek D.C. Council approval for $11 million for the hiring and training of 20 more officers in fiscal year 2021 and 150 more officers in fiscal year 2022. It will go before the council for a vote on Tuesday. 

The police chief and mayor asked people aware of crimes to come forward. They acknowledged “stop snitching” culture that strikes fear in people who would contact authorities. But “it’s simply not true that people don’t talk to police,” Bowser said. In 2020, the city distributed more than $323,000 for crime tips on murders. In 2021 so far, they’ve given out $165,000. 

Courtney died and five people, including her parents, were wounded in the shooting just after 11 p.m. July 16 at Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X avenues SE

“She didn’t deserve that. No one deserves that, especially a child," said Andrea Courtney, the child’s grandmother.

Other recent, high-profile shootings in D.C. include gunfire that wounded two men along the 14th Street NW nightlife corridor and gunfire that halted a Washington Nationals game. 

Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story. 

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