Security Cameras Near Petworth Playground Didn't Function During — or Before — Shooting

6-year-old girl struck by stray bullet in knee; 25-year-old man struck in back

Security cameras at a D.C. public housing complex were not working when a gunman entered a playground, shooting two people. 

Witnesses tell News4 a gunman barged through Petworth's Park Morton apartment complex playground around 7 p.m. Tuesday, firing several shots and striking a 6-year-old girl and a 25-year-old man. 

"It was chaos. It was pure chaos," a witness told News4. "I have never seen children that terrified in my life. It was disturbing."

The little girl suffered a gunshot wound to the knee. Colandria Smalley, the girl's mother, said her daughter is expected to make a full recovery and is now using a wheelchair.

News4's Mark Segraves learned the 25-year-old man who was shot in the back Tuesday was charged with first degree murder while armed in 2011. Those charges were dropped when witnesses refused to testify. Like the girl, he's expected to be OK.

D.C. police announced Thursday the numerous security cameras placed throughout the complex were not working during the shooting -- meaning there is no surveillance video of the suspect.

"At the time of the shooting, the on-site camera equipment was operating, but the recording equipment was engaged in a software maintenance routine so the footage caught on camera was not recorded," Richard White, director of D.C. Housing Authority said in a statement Thursday.

A long-time resident of the complex told News4 neighbors have been asking for upgraded security in the area for months. 

"We’ve invested millions of dollars in enhancements, such as lighting and fences," White said. "In addition, we have invested in an infrastructure of more than 1,200 cameras across the city designed to supplement law enforcement’s efforts to investigate crimes when they occur."

Police described the suspect as a 5'4" black man in his mid-20s with a light goatee who carried a silver handgun and wore a black skull cap, black hooded sweatshirt, black cargo pants, black booths and black sunglasses the night of the shooting, police said.

The playground remained closed Thursday afternoon as detectives went door-to-door looking information.

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