14-Year-Old Suspect in National Zoo Shooting Had Over 100 School Absences

The 14-year-old who police say shot two people outside the National Zoo had more than 100 absences this school year.

The shooting happened April 21, which was Easter Monday. Shots were fired into a large crowd that had gathered outside the Smithsonian National Zoo in Woodley Park. Two 18-year-old men were wounded, one in the arm, one in the hand. Both are expected to be okay.

Police say the shooting stemmed from a neighborhood dispute between a group from D.C. and another from Prince George's County, Maryland.

The suspect — who is not being named by police because he's a juvenile — is facing 14 charges, including two counts of attempted murder in connection with the attack. He's pleaded not guilty, and his trial is set to begin in mid-June.

Last week, News4 learned the teen had been arrested twice — once for an armed robbery and another time for making felony threats.

In court Thursday, it was revealed the teen had been chronically absent from school, missing months of classes. Testimony revealed he had 3 suspensions for fights and threats, 35 unexcused absences and 108 excused absences. 

D.C. schools are required to report students who have more than 10 unexcused absences to the city's social services department. It's unknown if that notification was ever made.

His mother testified Thursday, saying she "pleaded with the system for help and they failed him."

Communication between city schools and social service workers has recently come under fire, following the disappearance of 8-year-old Relisha Rudd.

The zoo has said it will conduct a complete overhaul of security as a result of this incident and two other violent incidents on Easter Monday. In 2011, a 16-year-old stabbed a 14-year-old at the zoo. In 2000, a 16-year-old shot seven people near the zoo entrance. 

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