District police have been pleased with the reduction of homicides in the city so far this year. But an explosion of violence Tuesday night in Southeast was a harsh reminder that guns and violence are still a major issue in D.C.
Nine people were shot in an apparent drive-by in southeast Washington Tuesday evening, and four D.C. police officers were injured pursuing possible suspects into Prince George's County.
"I don't have a memory of this many people being shot at one time in the District of Columbia," assistant police chief Peter Newsham said.
Orlander Carter, 20; Nathaniel Simms, 26; and a 14-year-old were arrested. Carter was charged with three counts of first-degree murder while armed and one count of second-degree murder while armed Wednesday. Simms was charged with three counts of first-degree murder while armed. They are scheduled to return to court April 15.
The juvenile also faces several charges. He has had at least 10 previous contacts with juvenile court, inclduing assault, robbery and assault on a police officer. Juvenile court found probable cause to believe he was deliberately involved and ordered him held for five days.
One person died at the scene Tuesday night in the 4000 block of South Capitol Street at Brandywine Street SE and eight others were taken to area hospitals -- some in critical condition. Three of the eight people transported later died. Two others remain in life-threatening condition.
At least three of the nine people who were shot were females.
The following people died:
- Tavon Nelson, 17
- William Jones III, 19
- Brishel Jones, 16
- Devaughn Boyd, 18
D.C. police responded to the shooting report at about 7:30 p.m. Witnesses described a bloody and chaotic scene as victims dropped to the ground.
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"You heard some shots; 'pop, pop, pop, pop, pop,'" one witness said. "Then you saw some people lying on the ground. It looked like a football pile-up."
The crime scene stretched for at least six blocks. An AK-47-type weapon reportedly was thrown from a green sedan that police chased through parts of D.C. and across the Prince George's County line.
Four officers in pursuit of the vehicle were slightly injured in a crash in the 5600 block of St. Barnabas Road in Oxon Hill, Md. Four people jumped out of the sedan, and three suspects were eventually taken into custody after that crash. Police believe the 14-year-old was driving.
Police are looking into the possibility that Tuesday's shooting may have been retaliation by a man who was shot in retaliation to another shooting, sources said. Everything may have started with the 1 a.m. shooting death of 20-year-old Jordan Howe March 22 in the 1300 block of Alabama Avenue in Southeast.
Sanquan Carter, 19, was taken into custody and charged with second-degree murder in that case. According to court documents, he believed Howe had stolen his bracelet. However, it is believed his brother, Orlander, also was suspected in that shooting but was never charged.
"Basically they allowed him to kill five other people," a relative of Jordan Howe in protective custody told News4's Tracee Wilkins. "The five other people wouldn't be dead if he was still in jail."
Later, Orlander Carter was shot in Southeast, taken to a hospital and released. No one was charged in that shooting, but there are suspicions that it was retaliation for Jordan Howe's death, News4's Pat Collins reported.
Tuesday night's shooting happened as mourners gathered after Howe's funeral.
"It would have never happened if that prosecutor had signed that warrant for his arrest," said Diane Howe, Jordan's mother, adding that the prosecutors know that there is an eye witness who saw Orlander Carter kill her son.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said that it sympathizes with Diane Howe but that prosecutors didn't have enough probable cause to charge Orlander Carter in her son's death.
Boyd's grandfather was across the street and knew DeVaughn was hanging out with friends when he heard the shots.
"I remember the color shoes he had on, so I saw his feet before I actually saw him," he said. "He had a pulse but he wasn't moving. He was just laying there."
Boyd was a high school senior who didn't hang out with the wrong crowd, said Scott, who visited the shooting scene Wednesday morning. Boyd liked to go to the mall and the movies with friends, as well as parties that featured go-go music, a mix of soul, funk and Latin styles.
Boyd's mother was initially told that her son was taken to Washington Hospital Center, then learned early Wednesday he was pronounced dead at a different hospital, Scott said.
"She's not good because she wasn't able to see her baby boy before he succumbed to his injuries. She wasn't able to give him one last, 'It's going to be all right,'" Scott said. "She's not going to be all right for some time."
Councilman Marion Barry, who represents the area, said a dispute between rival crews -- groups of friends who are not necessarily organized as gangs -- led to the shooting.
"I'm saddened. I'm outraged. I'm angry," Barry said. "We have a tough enough reputation anyway," he said of his district.
He said he was worried about further retaliation between groups, but that he had been reassured by police.
Councilman Phil Mendelson said the area was known for drugs and related violence.
"It's not a stranger to violent activity, unfortunately," said Mendelson, the chairman of the D.C. Council's Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary.
Before Tuesday's shooting incident, there were 20 homicides in D.C. in 2010, compared to 31 during the same time period the year before. There were 143 homicides in D.C. in 2009, the lowest number in almost 50 years, the AP reported.
The shooting was the worst in D.C. since four men fired into a crowd at the O Street Market in 1994, killing a teenager and wounding eight other people. A man was convicted of orchestrating the shooting to retaliate against people who had shot him in the stomach and robbed him several weeks earlier, the AP reported. He believed the people who had attacked him often visited the market.
Police continue to investigate Tuesday's shootings. Anyone with information should call police at 202-727-9099 or 1-888-919-CRIM[E] (1-888-919-2746). The Metropolitan Police Department currently offers a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for any homicide committed in the District.
Additionally, anonymous information may be submitted to DC CRIME SOLVERS at 1-866-411-TIPS and to the department’s TEXT TIP LINE by text messaging 50411. If the information provided by the caller to the Crime Solvers Unit leads to an arrest and indictment, that caller will be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.