- The Washington Times - Monday, July 24, 2000

A Southeast D.C. man was killed and four others wounded early yesterday morning in two unrelated shootings less than a mile from one another in the District of Columbia.

D.C. police said John Curtis Worthington, 37, of the 4300 block of Third Street was fatally shot about 3:28 a.m. during an argument outside a music store in the 2400 block of 18th Street NW in the popular nightclub neighborhood of Adams Morgan.

Two hours earlier, two men and two women attending an adult Hispanic soccer league celebration were wounded by gunfire at a school hall the group rented at St. Augustine Catholic Church on V Street NW. Two of the victims were taken to Howard University Hospital and released, while the other two refused medical treatment.

Police said last night they have no suspects in the shootings, but are offering up to $10,000 reward for information leading to the suspect in Mr. Worthington's slaying. Police are offering a $1,000 reward in the school hall shooting.

"We're looking into every possibility of what might have occurred," said Sgt. Joe Gentile, a D.C. police spokesman. "We'll continue to investigate both cases."

As police were hunting for clues, merchants along 18th Street in Adams Morgan, which is home to a string of restaurants and bars, yesterday expressed concern for the safety of their patrons as well as their own after learning of the shooting.

Gunfire and death have flared in the Adams Morgan neighborhood before.

In January, two men were shot to death and one was wounded just steps away from where Mr. Worthington was killed. That shooting occurred after a man made "disrespectful comments" to the girlfriends of the two victims while they were walking down 18th Street, near the Cassava Cafe next to the parking lot, police said.

In the summer of 1997, two men were killed and another injured after an argument at Las Rocas restaurant at 2450 18th St. NW.

"Of course, people here are worried about this happening here," said a waiter at the India Gate restaurant, which is across the street from where the shooting occurred.

"You begin to fear for your own safety when a situation like this occurs so close to home," said the waiter, who declined to be identified by name. "I could be the next victim."

Other merchants weren't as worried.

"Things like this are going to happen here," said Getachew Ashine, an attendant at Colonial Parking, next to where Mr. Worthington was gunned down.

"People get drunk, then get into fights. This is going to happen," Mr. Ashine said.

Police said Mr. Worthington got into a fight several minutes before he was shot in front of DCCD music store at 2423 18th St.

Stefan Zaklin, who lives in Adams Morgan, was standing on a street corner with his girlfriend taking pictures of the nightlife when they heard four gunshots go off, one after another.

"I ran over here and saw a guy laying on the ground," Mr. Zaklin said, looking to a spot of dried blood where Mr. Worthington had fallen. "Then the police came, and I was told to leave."

Meanwhile, several blocks east of Adams Morgan, four persons had been shot about 1 a.m. in the St. Augustine Catholic Church school hall in the 1400 block of V Street NW.

Police said an unidentified person standing outside the hall fired several rounds through a closed door into the building. The bullet fragments hit the two women and two men as they tried to get to safety.

"That's ridiculous, but unfortunately it's not unbelievable," said Donna Clark, a nearby resident. "It's the society we live in today."

Police ask anyone with information in either of the shootings to call the 3rd District station at 202/673-6914 or the D.C. CrimeSolvers Unit at 800/673-2777.

• Quintin J. Simmons contributed to this report.

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