Chris Gordon

Nine Teens Have Been Killed This Year in DC

Tyshon Perry. Damoni Gaither. Jaylyn Wheeler. The list of names has kept growing.

Nine teenagers age 13 to 19 have been killed in D.C. so far this year.

Tyshon Perry, 16, was stabbed to death May 1 near the NoMa Gallaudet Metro station in Northeast D.C. On May 9, Gaither, 17, was shot in front of his apartment building in the 300 block of Anacostia Road SE. Wheeler, 15, was shot seven days later in an alley off Randle Place SE.

Resident Sondra Battle heard the shots that killed Gaither. She spoke about the need to get powerful weapons off streets. 

"The biggest problem of all of this is the gun they shot that boy with it. It was nothing I've ever heard before," she said, her voice raising to a shout. "That was an instrument of war. That building shook when they shot that boy."

Residents are asking why many of the crimes remain unsolved.

Activist Phil Pannel of the Anacostia Coordinating Council blamed a "code of silence."

"We have murderers in our midst that are being protected and that are being coddled by people in this community. That's the bottom line," he said.

Pannel said people have told him they know who committed a murder but that they're afraid to speak, out of fear of retaliation.

D.C. teens who live in violent communities are suffering, Pannel said.

"My heart goes out to our high school students, particularly east of the river, because there's not a single high school student over here that hasn't personally known someone who has gotten killed," he said.

For years, Pannel has created posters that show each person who has been killed in Southeast D.C. The majority of the cases remain unsolved.

A total of 59 people have died in homicides in the city this year, marking a 48 percent increase over the same period last year.

News4 watched on Thursday as parents and children passed a street memorial to Gaither, on Anacostia Road. The adults stared straight ahead, avoiding looking at the memorial. The children were attracted to the balloons and stuffed animals, not understanding what they meant.

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