During the mass shooting, police say someone opened fire on a large crowd gathered outside Azeeze Bates’ apartments at NE 15th and F Streets, hitting six men. Residents said they were unnerved by the violence, as officials denounced those involved and promised to do more.
“Shooting, shooting, death,” said Tyrone Washington, 69, who has lived in the area all his life. “It’s crazy.”
DC Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who chairs the public safety committee and until recently represented the Kingman Park area, said officials are taking a “whole of government” approach to tackling crime, instead of relying entirely on the police.
But, the lawmaker said: ‘I don’t think you’ll find anyone who thinks things are moving fast enough. … Every aspect of government should feel a sense of urgency about this.
DC Police Chief Robert J. Contee III told reporters at the scene of the shooting that the city had invested in ways to “stem the tide of violence,” but some people “had just lost their sense of humanity”.
DC homicides now stand at 127, up 11% from the same time last year, according to the city’s official tally on Tuesday. But assaults with dangerous weapons, including shootings, are down 8%, even with last week’s unusually high number.
Police have released some details of Monday’s shooting and have made no arrests. They identified the deceased man as Lance Melvin, 24. He lived in southeast Washington, but public records show his family once lived in the area where he died. Efforts to contact relatives were unsuccessful. Police said the others had no life-threatening injuries.
City officials suggested the Azeeze Bates apartment complex was to blame, with Contee, Allen and an advisory ward commissioner accusing the owners of the complex of failing to take proper security measures.
Contee said: ‘I have been told that there is some type of private security, or company, that is responsible for this property. I have not seen it again.”
Allen said he met with residents and apartment representatives three weeks ago after shots were fired there to get them to install more security cameras and add private guards. Allen said the landlords “are not doing their job to keep their own residents, as well as their neighbors, safe.”
Dustin Sternbeck, a DC police spokesman, said two apartment security cameras trained on the area where Monday’s shooting occurred were not working, leaving investigators without video that could help identify the people involved. He said detectives were going door to door hoping to find residents with cameras who could help.
Peter Larson, vice president of property management at Horning Brothers, which owns the apartment complex, said those two cameras had been vandalized twice in the past six months.
“The cost is very high and we are taking costly extra precautions to help prevent further acts of vandalism,” Larson said in an email, noting that new cameras are expected to be operational early next week.
Larson said company officials “are deeply saddened and distressed” by Monday’s shooting, adding that “the safety and well-being of our residents is our primary focus, and we are working hard to meet the challenges of security”.
The property manager said the company had two armed guards in addition to off-duty police officers, who he says are driving around different compounds. On Monday evening, he said an off-duty DC officer had just completed a patrol in Ivy City, about two miles away, and another had just been in Azeeze Bates. He said two security guards were in another part of the compound when the shooting happened.
Larson said he asked police and lawmakers to put a city camera tower in a public alley where the six people were beaten on Monday. A police spokesperson referred to Contee’s comments at the scene of the shooting. “We are not private security for private property,” the chief said.
On Tuesday, a bullet hole was visible on a wall in an alley next to a church near the apartments.
A mother going to takeout for lunch who heard the gunshots on Monday said she kept her children indoors on Tuesday and away from the area playground. She said they had gone out to play a day earlier when the shooting took place.
“When we went outside to check on our children, we saw the people outside being shot,” the woman said, speaking on condition of anonymity out of concern for her safety. “Everyone was calling for help.
The woman said she had lived in Azeeze Bates for a few years and now wanted to move, not just out of her apartment, but out of northeast Washington. “Our children can’t play, we can’t go to the store,” she said. “We are afraid every time we walk. They just shoot randomly in broad daylight, at night.
Washington, who has lived in the area all his life, joked that despite the violence he planned to stay “69 more years”.
In Lincoln Park in the northeast, a few blocks away, city law enforcement handed out ice cream and cotton candy while chatting with community members Tuesday night for National Night Out.
Rachel Cerlen, 37, gave her 1-year-old daughter a snow cone and handed her 4-year-old son a bag of popcorn while they cooled off in the shade.
“We are a community that continues to find solutions to many of these issues beyond the typical narrative,” she said. “Crime is here, crime is everywhere. We must all continue to fight against this as a country. Our community is doing its best from top, bottom, sides to come together and try to find the best ways to reduce crime and support all members of our community.
Emily Davies contributed to this report.