- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 30, 2010

UPDATED:

WASHINGTON — The crowd of people targeted in a drive-by shooting that killed four and wounded five others had just returned from the funeral of a victim of a recent nearby gun attack, a witness said Wednesday.

Tuesday’s shooting was the worst in the district of Columbia in 16 years. Three people had been arrested and at least two people were being charged, authorities said.

William Cheek, owner of the apartment building where the crowd of about 15 was standing, said he had just walked across the street to buy a lottery ticket when he heard gunshots at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. He turned around and saw many people had fallen to the ground. His 20-year-old grandson was among the victims.

“I saw him breathe his last breath,” Cheek said, a tear running down his face. “He was shot in the head.”

Cheek did not want to identify his grandson but said he was enrolled in a GED class, played basketball and had hoped to become a long-distance bus driver.

“They got shot right on my porch,” said Cheek, a case manager at a local community center with programs on substance abuse, job training and anger management.

Neighbor Victoria Jones said young people in the area often go to Cheek for support and gather in front of his house.

Police said the victims were six men and three women but did not release their names. All were in their 20s and 30s, except for one teenager, fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said.

The D.C. councilman who represents the area, former Mayor Marion Barry, said a dispute between “crews” — neighborhood groups that are not as formal as gangs — led to the shooting.

The crowd standing in front of Cheek’s house had just returned from a funeral for Jordan Howe, who was killed on March 22 about 1 miles away in a drive-by shooting. Sanquan Carter, 19, has been charged with second-degree murder in that shooting.

Associated Press writers Matthew Barakat, Jessica Gresko, Sarah Karush and Brett Zongker contributed to this report.

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