Tuesday, January 11, 2000

District of Columbia police will increase their police presence in Adams Morgan following the triple shooting that left two men dead this weekend and said they hope to make an arrest soon.

At a news conference held yesterday with leaders of the Adams Morgan community, police said more bike and foot patrols have already been mobilized.

“This is an isolated incident, but we need a consistent presence in this area,” said Assistant Chief William P. McManus. “We will have footmen [here] on a permanent basis.”

Heavier media attention and a $10,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest had investigators fielding more calls yesterday. But police are hoping a lead that was received before the reward was issued and media coverage increased is a solid one, Chief McManus said.

“We’ve been getting a lot of calls,” he said. “I just hope that it plays out.”

An unidentified man involved in an argument with two couples killed two men and wounded a third just before 3:30 a.m. Sunday in the Colonial parking lot in the 2400 block of 18th Street NW, D.C. police said.

Ronald William Taylor, 28, of the 2200 block of Ontario Road NW, was taken to George Washington University Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 3:55 a.m., police said.

Carlos David Smith, also 28, of the 6900 block of Seat Pleasant Drive in Seat Pleasant, was transported to Washington Hospital Center’s MedSTAR Unit. He, too, was pronounced dead at 3:55 a.m., police said.

The shooting happened 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.

“The girls came out and had some words with some of these guys,” said one police source familiar with the investigation. “[Mr. Smith and Mr. Taylor] took them to their car and they came back and confronted them about what was said to them.

“A man pulled out a pistol and started blasting away,” the police source said.

A 33-year-old Arlington, Va., man was struck in the arm by a bullet. 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 may be a witness in the case.

The assailant fled through the parking lot after firing several rounds, police said. The weapon has not been recovered.

Shortly after the shooting, police stopped a man and took him into custody in the 1800 block of Belmont Avenue. A witness identified this man as being present during the shooting while riding back to the police station in the police car.

The man was questioned Sunday by detectives and the source said that he matched the description of one of the men in the group and did not appear to be the gunman. The witness saw the man and the muzzle flash, but could not positively identify him as the shooter.

Police brought the man back for further questioning, but would not comment on whether he was still a suspect.

Yesterday, business and political leaders from Adams Morgan gathered at the crime scene to express condolences to the victims’ families and to assuage fears about the safety of their neighborhood.

“We’d like to say how deeply sorry and horrified we are,” said Mary Abbajay, president of the Adams Morgan Business and Professional Association. “We believe in our neighborhood, we believe in our residents, we believe in our police department.”

D.C. Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat whose ward includes Adams Morgan, said he welcomes additional police in Adams Morgan and along U Street, which are both filled with nightclubs.

“Here is a situation where people come to entertain. Some do it to excess, which leads to fights and in extreme cases like this one, death,” Mr. Graham said. “We don’t object to it being an entertainment center, but we need adequate police protection so people don’t think it is Dodge City.”

Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Erik Christian said violence like this will not be tolerated in any part of the city, but increased police visibility is important because of the types of business in the area.

“As a community we want to say we are strong enough to survive this tragedy,” said Josh Gibson, of the Latino Economic Development Corporation.

Along with details of the investigation, it was announced yesterday that 3rd District Cmdr. Ross Swope is leaving the police force. He was promoted from field commander just last week.

Chief Ramsey immediately named Cmdr. Mark Beach as the new leader of the 3rd District, which is overseeing the investigation of the slayings. Cmdr. Beach, who has been in control of the departments Mobile Force, was promoted from captain last week and assigned to the operations command.

Mr. Taylor lived with his grandmother, Anne Dutch, in an apartment on Ontario Road in Northwest. Mrs. Dutch, who would not comment on her grandson’s death, said television news reporters descended upon her apartment yesterday morning requesting interviews with Mr. Taylor’s mother.

“They were so disrespectful. I’m not going to give any interviews [about Mr. Taylor],” Mrs. Dutch said during a phone interview while waiting to go identify the body of her grandson.

Mrs. Dutch said her daughter was too upset to give interviews and asked them to leave. The crews eventually left her apartment, but propped open the locked front door to the building and refused to leave.

Mrs. Dutch was so upset she called the police.

Police describe the assailant as a black male, 5 feet 7 inches tall, 140 pounds, with dreadlocks and wearing a black leather jacket and tan Timberland boots. Anyone with information is asked to call the D.C. CrimeSolvers Unit at 800/673-2777.

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