- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 29, 2004

He called himself Frank Nitti. Friends and family called her Princess. On the night of Jan. 23, only one of the two lived to tell the story of what happens when law-enforcement authorities fail to crack down on gun-toting drug dealers and other violent thugs.

Jahkema Princess Hansen was at the home of a 12-year-old neighbor the night when “Nitti” burst in and started spraying bullets. By the time he had left, seven shots had been fired. The wounded 12-year-old lay whimpering in agony. Princess lay dead, having been shot several times. Federal marshals caught up with “Nitti” the following afternoon — just a few blocks from where Princess was murdered. That he is behind bars is about the only fortunate circumstance to this deadly irony.

See, “Nitti” — just Al Capone’s real-life enforcer — bumped off a potential witness. Police believed Princess had witnessed one in a spate of earlier shootings in her troubled neighborhood, which is off North Capitol Street and in the shadows of the U.S. Capitol.

For the record, “Nitti” is a young man whose mother named himFranklinThompson. Princess’ full name is Jahkema Princess Hansen. (Princess because, her mom told columnist Marc Fisher of The Washington Post, her baby was a Christmas Day baby.) “Nitti” is 22 years old; Princess was but 14 — a junior high student who loved music and basketball, and wanted to be a lawyer. Yet, the victim’s and the gunman’s names are, in many ways, inconsequential.

Young guns blast away at (young and old) innocent people all the time. Their motives are as senseless as their easy access to illegal weapons — they kill people because of expensive jackets and sneakers, because someone “looked” at them the wrong way and because their illegal activity called for violence. But the clear and present dangers they pose have yet to sink into the heads of D.C. and federal law-and-order types — who patrol the city based on an asinine GPS grid. And, even as the D.C. Council and the mayor try to toughen the laws against the young guns and other hoodlums, the softies in social services cry for leniency.

There should be no leniency for the Frank Nittis of the world.

One would have hoped that Princess, her family and her neighborhood would have been given more attention from law-enforcement authorities when you consider: Police knew long before Princess was shot that drug rings operated in her neighborhood; there were three killings in the neighborhood in less than one week’s time; the neighborhood is a thriving drug market (and black market). “That’s all you see,” Princess’ mom, Judyann Hansen, told The Post, “people running up to me trying to sell me stuff.”

Moreover, authorities knew there was a possibility that Princess’ life was in danger. They had questioned her on Jan. 22, a Thursday. On Jan. 23, that Friday, she was shot dead. So, it is clear that police ignored the warning signs.

That Princess’ suspected killer is only 22 years old and that he used a gun will draw the usual suspects out of their woodwork. The anti-death penalty crowd will argue, “Let’s give him life.” The softies will say, “He’s young enough to be rehabilitated.” The gun-control folks will say, “See, that’s why D.C. needs to keep guns out of everyone’s hands.” U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, a former federal prosecutor and deputy White House drug czar, who recently dismissed a right-to-bear-arms lawsuit, might even dare to pat himself on the back and proclaim, “I was right after all.”

None of those points of view apply to the murder of Princess Hansen. Princess was not merely killed or slain. Princess was not a bystander who happened to be trapped in a crossfire. Princess did not die as a result of a violent struggle. Princess was an intended target. Her murderer armed himself, left Point A, arrived at Point B, shot her down in cold blood and left the scene.

Those are facts. My opinion is that youths need to believe that law-enforcement authorities are there to protect them — that if they do the right thing (especially coming forward as a crime witness) — that police have their back, so to speak.

Moreover, “Frank Nitti” and “Frank Nitti” wannabes must be sent as clear a message as the one enforced by murdering the Princesses of the city. That message is that they will be prosecuted under the full letter of D.C. law. The feds never got that opportunity with the real-life Frank Nitti.

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