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D.C. teen killed after another’s funeral

- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Southeast D.C. teenager was fatally shot Wednesday as he boarded a Metro bus after attending the funeral of a 19-year-old killed Halloween night.

The victim, George Rawlings, was the older brother of DeOnte Rawlings, who was fatally shot by an off-duty Metropolitan Police officer in 2007.

Both Rawlings and Ashton Hunter, the teenager whose funeral he attended Wednesday, had criminal records. Hunter was under the supervision of the Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services (DYRS).

Rawlings was on probation when he was shot before noon as he attempted to board the X2 bus at 13th and H streets in Northeast, police said. Court records show that he was serving a 12-month sentence for felony gun possession and undergoing drug treatment and grief counseling - the latter related to the death of his 14-year-old brother, DeOnte.

On Wednesday, a lawyer for the Rawlings family said Rawlings went to the Capitol Mortuary on Maryland Avenue in Northeast for Hunter's funeral despite warning signs that his life could be in danger.

"There was street talk that George either witnessed or was thought to have witnessed [Hunter's] shooting," said Gregory Lattimer, a lawyer who represents the Rawlings family in a civil lawsuit related to DeOnte's death. "The family was hearing that the perpetrators were looking to eliminate witnesses."

Rawlings was sentenced on June 26 under a youth rehabilitation law concurrent with another felony conviction, court records state. Though he was transferred to Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina in May, he had returned to the District and was on probation. He had been charged in 10 felony and misdemeanor cases from 2006 to 2007, court records show.

Mr. Lattimer could not say why Rawlings may have witnessed or been mistaken for a witness in the Hunter shooting. Hunter was fatally shot on Oct. 31 in the 300 block of 37th Street in Southeast, where he lived with a family member under a DYRS monitoring arrangement.

DYRS officials said that about 300 youths subject to the agency's supervision live at home or with relatives under similar arrangements. Court records show that Hunter was charged in more than 20 assault, gun and theft-related cases from 2003 to 2007.

Details, such as Rawlings' exact age and employment status, were not available. Mr. Lattimer said that Rawlings "had his scrapes with the law" but that he was "trying to stay out of trouble."

Mr. Lattimer added that Rawlings was the last to see his brother DeOnte alive and the first to learn of DeOnte's death, on Sept. 17, 2007, after an exchange of gunfire with an off-duty D.C. police officer who suspected DeOnte of stealing a minibike.

D.C. and federal investigators later cleared the officer of any criminal wrongdoing.