A man was found fatally shot inside a tent near Thomas Circle in Northwest D.C. on Monday morning, police say. A homicide investigation is underway.
The name of the man who was killed was not immediately released.
Officers getting coffee at the nearby Wawa convenience store heard gunshots just before 10 a.m. coming from the homeless encampment on the east side of Thomas Circle. When they went to investigate, police say the officers found a man fatally wounded inside a tent. A handgun and magazine laid near the entrance to a tent, police said.
“Crime scene search is processing that, and our investigators are trying to tie together the pieces of, obviously, how this handgun was involved in this particular shooting,” Assistant Chief Andre Wright said.
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The motive is still unclear. A law enforcement source familiar with the investigation said detectives are looking into the possibility there was a fight over the gun.
“I do think we are going to be able to get to the bottom of this as soon as we get a few more pieces of the puzzle together,” Wright said.
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The search for the shooter is ongoing. Officers saw a man running from the scene, police said.
Part of the area was closed off as of midday.
Homeless encampments around Thomas Circle have been there for months. One side has a portable toilet.
Dr. Amy Butler, interim senior minister at National City Christian Church, said the church community on the circle has been tracking increased gun violence.
“It’s a terrible tragedy and loss for our community anytime violence is committed against anyone,” she said. “We have been increasingly concerned about the increase of gun violence here in our city. Last year was the highest in decades, and we really need to grapple with the idea that people are not doing well. Since COVID, people are not doing well.”
Butler said people of faith need to pay attention to homelessness, addiction and easy access to guns.
This past weekend, D.C. police say officers took 44 illegal guns off the street.
Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story.