- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 10, 2000

A fight at a high school basketball game likely sparked a barrage of gunfire Tuesday night that took the lives of two high school sweethearts as they returned home to a quiet Northeast neighborhood in Washington, D.C., police said yesterday.
Andre Wallace, captain of the Woodrow Wilson Senior High football team, and his girlfriend, Natasha Marsh, both 17, were fatally shot about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday as they unloaded groceries in front of her Brookland home.
"They did everything together. Natasha had lots of dreams, a promising future and all that [was] taken away from her," Angela Mays, the girl's aunt, said yesterday as she stood on the porch of the family's brick row house in the 3600 block of 17th Street NE near Catholic University.
Police said a dark-colored car pulled up outside the house and at least one person opened fire, hitting Andre and Natasha repeatedly in the head and body.
Police have not named any suspects but are seeking information on a black 1997 Ford Expedition with Maryland registration M367-591 that may be connected to the fatal shootings. Police said the vehicle may have been stolen.
The vehicle was seen in the area of the shooting around the time of the incident, said Capt. Jeff Moore of the 5th District, and investigators want to interview the people in the vehicle about the shootings.
Andre had been involved in a confrontation during the last minutes of a home game against Coolidge Senior High. The incident, which involved several teen-agers, apparently erupted after another teen-ager had approached Natasha.
Detectives yesterday interviewed students who saw the encounter described by many witnesses as a fistfight and as a verbal argument by others. They also were trying to identify the car and were canvassing the neighborhood.
"We are aware of the earlier altercation, and we're looking into it as a possibility. We're not saying that's the motive or that the person involved in the fight did the shooting," said Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey.
"There's still a couple of people we'd very much like to speak to," Chief Ramsey said.
Andre and Natasha, both seniors, collapsed in the street by the trunk of the car where they were unloading groceries. Andre fell on top of Natasha, perhaps to protect her from gunfire, said Natasha's stepfather, Dwayne Williams.
They were pronounced dead at the scene.
"It's just one more example of the tragedy of youth violence. It is troubling and just doesn't make any sense. Kids are dying out there and for what?" Chief Ramsey said.
Meanwhile, the chief lifted a 50-officer cap on the Mobile Force Unit to allow about 200 officers to volunteer to work overtime on the unit. "We're increasing the number of mobile force officers immediately for increased visibility," he said.
Members of the special unit patrol areas designated as high-crime spots through analysis of daily crime reports, gathering information to determine crime trends in neighborhoods and target those problems.
Word of Tuesday's killings spread among students at Wilson Senior High School in upper Northwest, where teen-agers, many weeping, gathered in groups. Even 45 minutes after the first-period classes began, hundreds of students stood outside the school's entrance to grieve.
Friends, family and police investigators said Andre and Natasha were "good" teen-agers who stayed out of trouble.
"They were very tight teen-agers who had good heads on their shoulders," said Erik Marsh, 30, Natasha's cousin.
Andre, a wide receiver and a drum major, lived with his mother in a transitional housing building run by Partner Arms in the 900 block of Kennedy Street NW. Andre's mother could not be reached for comment yesterday. Chief Ramsey said he spoke to Andre's mother yesterday and was trying to reach Natasha's family.
Andre also had played on the school's basketball team in years past, but chose not to play this year, friends said.
Natasha was a member of Wilson High's Academy of Finance. "She stayed out of trouble and kept her grades up year by year," Mr. Williams said. "I couldn't ask for a better daughter."
Mr. Williams said he has no idea why someone would take the teen-agers' lives. "I don't know if it was random or [after] an argument with somebody or what it was. Whatever it was, it didn't have to result in that."
Friends and family gathered yesterday at the brick row house where Natasha lived with her mother, stepfather and brother Dominic, 7, for the past 10 years.
Grief counselors yesterday arrived at Wilson High to meet with students, and Principal Steve Tarason met with teachers before classes began.
Police concerns about retaliation for the shootings prompted tight security. Students were ordered to show identification before going through metal detectors at the school's entrances.
Precautions against violence after high school sports events were unchanged yesterday. In 1962, all high school football night games were banned in the city after a riot erupted after a Thanksgiving Day game between St. John's Catholic school and Eastern High School. Forty persons were injured in the riot.
Several teens have been gunned down in double homicides in the District in less than four months.
Natosha Adams, 16, and her friend Melissa Payne, 17, were slain Dec. 27 as they returned to their Southeast apartment complex after delivering Christmas presents. The shooting occurred about 11:35 p.m. at the apartment complex in the 300 block of 37th Street SE.
Two months earlier, Rowland Ford, 15, and Doniell Smith, 14, were killed Halloween night after they returned home from a church party. They were standing at the corner of 19th and P streets SE in the Fairlawn neighborhood when four masked gunmen fired into the crowd, also injuring two others.
Tuesday's shooting occurred in a tight-knit community just west of South Dakota Avenue, where last year there were no homicides.
City police said 39 persons have been slain in the District this year, compared with 28 persons slain during the same time last year.
"There are some deeply rooted social problems that have to be confronted to help our youth," Chief Ramsey said yesterday.
Just last week, the chief promoted 6th District Cmdr. Rodney Monroe to assistant chief to tackle, in part, the social issues that cause youths to join gangs and sell drugs.
Police are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to arrests and indictments in the case.

Rebecca Charry contributed to this report.

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