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Family Says Man Killed in DC Experienced Difficult Life But Never Stopped Smiling

It was Saturday night when McKnight visited a hostel on 7th Street NW. His family believes he went to see an acquaintance

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A man was shot and killed in D.C. Sunday, leaving behind a grieving family who said their loved one, despite experiencing much suffering, never stopped smiling. 

Ronald McKnight survived a year of living on the streets of D.C. during a pandemic only to have his life taken during a violent encounter at a hostel in the Shaw neighborhood.

Family members said even as McKnight struggled with mental illness -- and serious physical side effects from medication he took for it -- he stayed upbeat, positive and connected to those he loved.

His sister, Twyla Alston, said her brother had been experiencing homelessness while working two jobs and struggling to afford his own place.

"And after a year of going through all of those hoops... he dodged the bullet of the virus to encounter the bullet of gun violence in the streets," Alston said.

It was Saturday night when McKnight visited a hostel on 7th Street NW. His family believes he went to see an acquaintance. 

According to court documents, Nathan Hunter, 39, was arrested after he came to a police station and told detectives he shot McKnight in self-defense. He told them McKnight rushed at him in the hostel bathroom and pulled out a gun.

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Hunter said a brutal struggle ensued, including biting and punching. He told detectives he grabbed the gun and fired a warning shot before shooting McKnight twice.

Detectives, however, were not convinced. Crime scene investigators found no evidence of a warning shot, and the medical examiner determined McKnight had suffered four gunshot wounds.

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Security camera video showed Hunter leaving the hostel and tossing a bag in some bushes. Police found a gun nearby. 

Leangela Gray believes her uncle was set up for a robbery. 

"Ron would never have a gun," Gray said. "So I think my uncle came to see the guy and it just turned for the worst."

Hunter is facing charges of second degree murder while armed.     

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