Man Cleaning Gun Accidentally Fires, Killing Neighbor in DC

Harold James was lying in bed when he was shot in the leg

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A man was cleaning his gun Wednesday night when it accidentally went off, fatally shooting his neighbor below him in an apartment building in Southeast D.C., police say.

Harold James was lying in bed about 9 p.m. when he was shot in the leg at his apartment in the 2300 block of Good Hope Road SE, police said.

James’ daughter, who was home at the time, said she heard a pop sound before her father called out to her.

Medics took him to a hospital, where he later died.

"Unfortunately, due to someone just cleaning a weapon and they accidentally discharged it during that process and it took a life," Metropolitan Police Department Cmdr. Darnel Robinson said.

Police said the upstairs neighbor is fully cooperating with the investigation and his gun was registered.

"I don’t think any of us can ever imagine a bullet coming from an upstairs apartment and then striking a possible artery or the adult male laying in his bed watching TV. It is a tragic event," Robinson said.

James’ daughter told News4 her dad was a happy man with an infectious laugh. She said he woke her up on Sunday morning to begin celebrating her 25th birthday. Now, days later, she’s preparing to bury him.

Hours before James was shot, a woman died when a stray bullet struck her inside a car going by on Division Avenue NE. Police said a teen suspect was firing a gun at someone else when the bullet hit 54-year-old Pamela Thomas.

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