- The Washington Times - Monday, January 10, 2000

An unidentified man involved in an argument with two couples killed two men and wounded a third in a parking lot in Adams Morgan early yesterday.

Police questioned a man last night but released him when no witnesses to the shooting could identify him as the shooter.

The shooting took place just before 3:30 a.m. in the Colonial parking lot next to the Cassava restaurant in the 2400 block of 18th Street NW, District of Columbia police said.

The men who died were shot in the chest. A witness placed a towel over one of the men's wounds while others spoke words of encouragement.

"Come on, baby, hang in there," they urged, a witness told The Washington Times.

Both slain men were 28. Police identified them as Carlos Smith of Seat Pleasant and Ronald Taylor of Ontario Road NW.

The assailant fled after firing several rounds. The weapon has not been recovered.

Another bullet struck a 33-year-old Arlington, Va., man in the arm. He is thought to be a bystander, not involved in the argument.

The man was taken to a hospital for treatment. His name has not been released because he is a witness in the case.

Shortly after the shooting, police stopped a man fitting the description of the shooter in the 1800 block of Belmont Avenue NW and questioned him for several hours. They released him because none of the witnesses could positively identify him.

Police brought the suspect back later for further questioning, they said during a news conference held at the crime scene last night.

The shooting happened after a man made "disrespectful comments" to two women walking with their boyfriends down 18th Street, police said.

The couples walked to their car but returned to a phone booth near the parking lot, and the man then began shooting.

Police believe the shooter then walked through the parking lot and into an alley with several others and got into a car. Police stopped the car and charged the driver with driving without a permit but could not immediately charge him with the shooting, they said last night.

"Nobody really seemed to see anything everybody was freaking out," said Theo Sampo, general manager of the Felix nightclub and restaurant across 18th Street from the parking lot.

A doorman at the Felix heard the shots and told Mr. Sampo to call 911.

After getting off the phone, Mr. Sampo joined other people trying to assist the victims, even trying to stop the bleeding by putting a towel in one of the wounds.

"We elevated his head and gave him some padding," Mr. Sampo said. Bystanders shouted encouragement.

"What I saw was two people [die] in front of my club," Mr. Sampo said. "It's a little too close to home for me and my staff."

Gunfire and death have flared in the Adams Morgan neighborhood before. In the summer of 1997, two men were killed and another injured following an argument at Las Rocas restaurant at 2450 18th St. NW.

Yesterday afternoon, D.C. police officers were prominently visible along 18th Street, talking to passers-by and looking over the crime scene.

D.C. police Cmdr. Ross Swope of the 3rd District said police were going over statements made by several eyewitnesses.

It's not clear how many people apart from the Arlington man saw the shootings.

"Many people were out on the street and someone saw something," said Assistant Chief Ronald Monroe at last night's news conference at the parking lot.

Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey has issued a $10,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest. D.C. police have also asked for help from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The shooter is described as black, 5 feet 7 inches tall, 140 pounds with dreadlocks and wearing a black leather jacket and tan Timberland boots.

"People were running and screaming when I came I saw two men laying there," said Sidi Mohamed, a busboy at Felix, who was pulling a table inside the restaurant when the shots were fired.

"I didn't hear the shots, but I heard people screaming."

This story is based in part on wire service reports.

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