16-Year-Old Boy Fatally Shot in DC Robbery Attempt Killed His Attacker

A 16-year-old boy was shot and killed while defending himself from a robbery -- but fatally injured his attacker before he died. 

Zaire Kelly was walking home from a convenience store when 19-year-old Sequan Gillis tried to rob him near the intersection of 13th and Downing streets NE about 8:40 p.m. Wednesday, police said.

Kelly pulled out a pocket knife to defend himself, police said.

Then, Gillis shot Kelly.

Both Gillis and Kelly died from their injuries, police said.

D.C. Chief of Police Peter Newsham said that Kelly was "murdered" while trying to defend himself.

"It looks like the 16-year-old, in an attempt to defend himself, was murdered and the suspect was also pronounced dead," D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said.


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Kelly was a senior at Thurgood Marshall Academy, a public charter school in Southeast D.C. School officials and police said he was a good student and a track star.

Kelly's godmother told News4 Kelly had left a D.C. college prep program called College Bound moments before he was attacked and he was almost home. Kelly aspired to attend Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University after graduating high school.

"My heart just dropped, stomach just started turning and I just couldn't believe it," said Zaire's former College Bound mentor Elam Ruff. "His energy was just phenonmenal and [he had] the brightest smile."

Richard Pohlman, the executive director of Thurgood Marshall Academy, said Zaire was "more than a good student. He was a good human being."

Pohlman said Kelly was a mentor to younger students and was in AP honors classes.

The stabbing and shooting happened less than a half-mile from the 1400 block of Saratoga Avenue, where college-bound 17-year-old Jamahri Sydnor was struck and killed by a stray bullet in August.

"Bullets don't care how old you are or who you are," Chief Newsham said.

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