A woman was killed and four people were injured in a shooting inside a Northwest Washington, D.C., hotel early Thursday when gunfire erupted during a party in a room, police said.
Police were called to the Days Inn at 4400 Connecticut Avenue NW, in the Van Ness neighborhood, about 3:30 a.m. for reports of gunshots. Two women were found shot in the hotel, with one in the lobby and another in a room, D.C. Chief of Pollice Robert Contee said.
Two men went to hospitals on their own, and another woman suffered a gunshot wound that was not considered life-threatening, Contee said.
The woman killed was identified as 20-year-old Dasha Cleary, Contee said at a news conference on Friday.
Police described an exchange of gunfire inside a room.
Contee declined to say whether any bullets exited the hotel room but said the incident was mostly contained to one room. A handgun was recovered at the scene, he said.
Contee said it wasn’t immediately clear what led to the shooting but said police will work to quickly resolve the case.
“It appears that maybe some domestic overtones, that the individuals involved all kind of knew each other,” Contee said.
Officers believe they have identified most of the people involved, and that there's no immediate threat to the public.
“They came into the District of Columbia, possibly from Maryland, they rented a room, it may have been some kind of, just, social interaction going on, and one thing led to another that resulted in this shooting,” the police chief said.
One woman, who was arriving to work at a bakery nearby shortly after the shooting, described seeing someone get taken away in an ambulance.
“I saw a person on a gurney coming out of the hotel, getting put into an ambulance that then got escorted by a police officer. As I was locking up my bike, more and more cops just kept coming,” she said.
A swarm of police officers and emergency vehicles, including a K-9 unit, was seen between Albemarle and Yuma streets, investigating the hotel. The block is in a commercial area with some homes, and several apartment buildings are located on surrounding streets.
Second District Commander Duncan Bedlion said that members of the community have complained about the hotel before.
“We receive complaints related to drug activity, and that’s something we actively work to address with the community,” Bedlion said.
Records show D.C. police have been called to the hotel 278 times over the past two years, which they confirm is a big increase over previous years. According to Contee, the hotel’s address has been subject to 73 calls for service since July for incidents ranging from welfare checks to assaults to drug complaints.
The majority of calls police have responded to at the hotel are for what’s listed as “disorderly disturbance.”
Thursday’s shooting ignited long-simmering community concerns about an increase in certain types of crime in the area, including car theft and carjacking.
In December 2020, a car belonging to Ward 3 D.C. Council member Mary Cheh was stolen in seconds while she ran into a bakery just steps from the hotel.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Contee led residents on an anti-crime walk along Connecticut Avenue near Van Ness Street. In an open-air community meeting, Van Ness residents voiced concerns that the District’s practice of contracting with landlords to provide apartments and hotel rooms for unhoused people seems not to take into account continuing needs for help with mental health, substance abuse, hunger and chronic truancy.
“And I believe it has a lot to do with the fact that there’s irresponsible and mismanaged behavior by the Department of Human Services,” said Cheh, who represents the neighborhood.
“I don’t want to conflate this incident with that, because that’s not the case,” Bowser said. “What we know so far is that we’ve had patrons here, not put in place by the city, that were involved in a crime and victimized.”
While the hotel had been used as a quarantine site for COVID-19 patients in need in the past, it currently is not being used that way, Contee said.
Management of the Days Inn said in a statement, “The Metropolitan Police Department [was] contacted immediately and have begun their investigation. Since the incident is an active investigation, we are asking that any related questions be directed to the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. Our thoughts and prayers are with those involved.”
The woman who died is the 12th homicide victim in D.C. this year. After a violent 2021, News4 asked Contee whether residents should feel confident that 2022 will be any different.
“I would hope that people would certainly keep their confidence to slow down the trend, because we are doing absolutely everything we possibly can,” he said. “[…] I think the issue is the availability of firearms to individuals. But beyond that — the way people are choosing to resolve conflict in the community.”
MPD initially reported a shooting and issued an update saying said a woman died and three other women were injured. Then, a watch commander told News4 that no fatalities were confirmed. MPD later issued a correction and said the woman was gravely injured. Finally, D.C. police told News4 that the woman had been declared dead.
Connecticut Avenue was blocked in both directions during the police investigation overnight. It reopened after 7 a.m.
Police didn't immediately detail what may have led to the shooting.
No information on potential suspects was released.
Stay with News4 for more on this developing story.