- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 17, 2002

A Northwest neighborhood where six persons were shot early Saturday morning will soon be home to a new Metropolitan Police substation, placing around 90 officers in an area plagued for years with drug trafficking, violent crime and lack of cooperation with police.

Numerous residents on Kenyon Street in Park View, where six persons were shot and wounded around 4:30 a.m. on Saturday, told the Washington Times yesterday their neighborhood lacks police presence.

"The police don't come when you call. You feel like shooting them," said an 85-year old woman who has lived on Kenyon Street since 1933 but was afraid of being identified in the newspaper. "You rarely see the police down here."

The 4th District station house is just under three miles north of the Park View neighborhood, while the new 4th District substation at 750 Park Road NW is just three blocks away. The building was previously used as the 10th Precinct station and cost around $1 million to renovate, according to D.C. Council Member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat. It is scheduled to open at the end of this month or in early October.

"That's going to make a big difference in police response and police visibility," Mr. Graham said. "If we improve the police presence, we will improve the situation."

Prior to Saturday's shootings, in which one man was shot in the head and remains in critical condition, there was a drive-by shooting on September 11, four blocks north in the 400 block of Manor Place NW. One person was killed and three others were wounded in that shooting.

The 4th District has seen a 30 percent increase this year in homicides, robberies and stolen autos compared with last year, police officials said.

While the insufficient number of police in the community seems to be a chief cause of the high crime rate, residents offered numerous other contributing factors. They said most of the crime stems from a thriving drug trade on Kenyon Street, but prostitution, vagrancy, loitering and retaliation for petty disputes make the problem worse.

"I don't stay out here. I'm scared for my kids," said Alexandra Kamile, 25, who has lived on Kenyon Street for three years and was out walking with her two young children. She said three of her friends were among the people shot on Saturday, including the man in critical condition, known to her as "Black."

"There's a lot of young men out here, selling whatever, fighting, shooting each other, stabbing each other. But I don't involve myself with that," she said. "I just stay at home."

Ms. Kamile said many fights start during games of dice and gambling in an alley just off the street.

"There's a lot of money out there. That's why they're killing here," she said.

Ernesto Flores, 32, said he moved into a row house on Kenyon Street about four months ago only because he needs a ride to Virginia, where he works as a carpenter.

"This area's a little dangerous," Mr. Flores said. "It's not a good place for kids to be."

Mr. Flores said he has seen people shooting on the street, adding that when one of his friends came to visit recently, he was held up at gunpoint just outside the front door.

"I've never lived in a place like this," he said. "If you come out past 11 p.m., people try to rob you for your money. I just stay home and don't come out too late."

Elsewhere, two off-duty Metropolitan Police officers were shot yesterday morning in separate, random incidents.

The first incident occurred in Prince William County just after 2 a.m., when a D.C. Police officer heard sounds downstairs in his Lake Ridge townhouse and encountered a masked gunman. The two struggled and one shot was fired, wounding the officer in the leg.

The gunman fled the home and the officer followed, firing several shots with his service revolver.

The second incident occurred a little before 5 a.m., in Northeast, when one of two men attempting to rob a car with three women inside fired shots, hitting an off-duty female police officer in the leg.

The two robbers, who are described as black males in their late teens or early 20s, fled in a White Toyota possibly bearing West Virginia tags, according to police spokesman Sgt. Joe Gentile.


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