Monday, March 11, 2013

13 people injured in shooting on D.C. street corner overnight'

By Peter Hermann and Matt Zapotosky, Updated: Monday, March 11, 5:32 PM

A drive-by shooting early Monday on a D.C. street corner that has been repeatedly touched by violence left 13 people wounded, one of them seriously, police said.

Video: The Metropolitan Police Department has released surveillance video capturing an early morning drive-by shooting in Northwest D.C. on camera. Thirteen people were injured when gunmen opened fire in front of a crowd outside an apartment building.

The shooting took place on North Capitol Street at New York Avenue in front of Tyler House, a crime-plagued subsidized apartment complex that police said is one reason the neighborhood has struggled with gun violence even as redevelopment in nearby “NoMa,” or north of Massachusetts Avenue, has redefined the area.

Those wounded in the shooting — the youngest of whom was 17 — were struck mostly in the arms and legs, D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said. Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham said the seriously injured victim was hit in the back. None of the injuries are considered life-threatening.

“Everybody was screaming,” said Jonique Douglas, 21, who had just come out of the Fur Nightclub around the corner and was standing in front of Tyler House when the shots rang out.

“They shooting like directly at us,” she said, adding that she and others began kicking and punching Tyler House’s locked door, where Douglas said she used to live, to get to safety. “It coulda been a bloody mess.”

But she said there was no one to let them in. Douglas said people in the group began to fall over one another as bullets struck some and grazed others. She said her 17-year-old brother was hit in the hand by a bullet.

The shooting occurred across New York Avenue from Big Ben Liquor Store, on the northern edge of the District’s up-and-coming NoMa district.

Gunmen in two cars fired into a crowd 
outside an apartment building early 
Monday. (Courtesy of WJLA)
Cranes loom overhead, marking new construction that is rapidly filling the empty lots that once dotted the area. New condos, stores and office complexes are rising among apartment complexes that for decades have housed lower-income city residents.

The development activity comes despite sporadic bursts of violence in the neighborhood, including shootings on consecutive weekends in October that wounded a total of seven people outside Big Ben.

DC. Police chief Cathy L. Lanier said detectives had not determined a motive in the more recent shooting, but she pointed at the Fur Nightclub, about a block away from Tyler House, which she said has been a constant source of complaints.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier discusses 
the shootings during a press conference 
Monday morning. (Courtesy of WJLA)
Lanier has temporarily shut down more than two dozen bars, nightclubs or other liquor establishments since 2011, invoking her emergency power in cases she deems necessary to ensure public safety. In most cases, the 72-hour closures come after violence that can be directly attributed to disputes that start inside the establishments.

Lanier and other police officials said people coming out of the mega club Fur, which can hold 1,200 customers, often gather in front of Tyler House.

Commander Andy Solberg said that in the early hours of the morning, when the clubs in the neighborhood close, “a whole lot of people with cash in their pockets come out onto the street, and the guys from Tyler House are waiting for them. That’s when you get the holdups and that’s the source of the shootings in the neighborhood.”

 Twitter reaction to Monday's violence
Twitter reaction to Monday's violence
2:09 PM ET

Residents responded on Twitter to Monday’s shootings that left several injured along North Capitol Street.

Solberg added that discussions have been under way for some time with the District government about finding a permanent solution in which Tyler House would either be rehabbed, torn down or sold. “You won’t get the violence down as much as you’d like until you do something about Tyler House,” he said.

Police said the gunfire early Monday may have come from one or both of the cars that sped south along the 1200 block of North Capitol St. NW. It was not immediately clear how many shots were fired or from what type of weapons.

Lanier said detectives believe that one of the vehicles involved in the shooting may have been a dark-colored car, and another a may have been a light gray or silver sedan. Police had initially said one of the cars might have been a BMW, but said neither car in the video appears to be that model.

Police said one person was seriously injured by a bullet wound to the lower back, but the rest were all shot in their legs, arms, feet, hands and buttocks, or were grazed, and the injuries did not appear to be serious. The youngest victim was 17, police said.

Thirteen people on a sidewalk outside Tyler House were injured in a drive-by shooting on North Capitol Street about 2:10 a.m. Monday

At the time of the Big Ben shootings in October, police said they may have stemmed from a dispute between residents from north of New York Avenue, around 1st and O streets NW, and people living at Tyler House to the south. No arrests have been made. No one died in those shootings, but a 14-year-old boy who was shot in the abdomen was seriously injured.

Police spent hours at the intersection early Monday, collecting evidence from the latest violence such as spent shell casings.

Tonya Brigdes, 36, said she has seen crime ebb and flow in the nearly 17 years she has lived in Tyler House. When she first moved there in 1996 the building seemed safe, but by the mid to late 2000s, violence seemed to tick up, she said.

Monday’s shooting, Brigdes said, was a startling reminder of how bad the area can be.

“I’m saving up my money -- because I got a baby on the way -- so I can get out of here,” said Brigdes, who is nine months pregnant.

The trouble, Brigdes said, comes mainly from the youths who hang out regularly in front of the apartment at all hours of the night, undeterred by security guards who try to shoo them away. She said the apartment even removed furniture from the lobby in an effort to discourage people from hanging out there, but it has not seemed to work.

“When they had furniture there, there was too many guests coming in here, sitting down,” Brigdes said.

Brigdes said apartment officials have been discussing renovations for years, but none have come to pass. She had hoped that officials would also implement a screening process would accompany the renovations to weed out criminals.

“It’s a nice, lovely building,” she said. “It’s just the people that reside in the building.”

Brigdes said that while some new businesses have moved into the area, vestiges of old D.C. hinder their impact. Fur Nightclub, she said, is especially problematic, often drawing feuding youths from different neighborhoods. She said she wonders whether that might have played a role in Monday’s shooting.

The shooting surprised Gerry Payne, 43, who said he has lived in a townhouse that sits diagonally across an intersection from Tyler House for 40 years. That 13 people were wounded, he said, was startling in its own right. But that it happened in this neighborhood, where development seems to have pushed out violence in recent years, was perhaps even more noteworthy.

“You probably couldn’t walk through this neighborhood 10 years ago without someone trying to rob you or something like that,” Payne said. “But the neighborhood has changed tremendously -- for the better. You can walk down the street to the stores now and everything is right there.”

Even Tyler House itself, Payne said, seems to have undergone some renovations. He said he does not let his own children hang out in front of it. But he said he also does not feel it is dragging down an otherwise up and coming area.

“It is what it is,” Payne said.”The building is going under reconstruction right now. After everything is said and done, I think it will be more safe than it is now.”

Payne said he did not hear or see the shooting and only learned what happened this morning when a friend called to make sure he was OK.

“Just to shoot into a crowd, that’s crazy,” he said.

Police are urging anyone with information about Monday’s shooting to call 202-727-9099.

Marc Fisher contributed to this article.

No comments:

Post a Comment