- The Washington Times - Monday, May 10, 2004

D.C. police arrested a Northeast man yesterday in the shooting death of an 8-year-old girl last week.

D.C. police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said Raashed Hall, 21, was charged with murder while armed in the death of Chelsea Danielle Cromartie. Chief Ramsey said Mr. Hall, who previously had been questioned by investigators, called police and surrendered at about noon yesterday in the 1900 block of 13th Street NW.

Police Capt. Robert Contee, commander of the Violent Crimes Branch, said telephone tips led them to the suspect.

“We believe that the person that’s responsible is in our custody,” Capt. Contee said. “He had two previous charges — minor charges. … It is possible more arrests are coming.”

Capt. Contee suggested that investigators will be looking for others who might have been fighting with the suspect on the night Chelsea was killed.

Investigators said Mr. Hall lives in the 5500 block of Burroughs Avenue NE, not far from where Chelsea was killed May 3 by a stray bullet that came through a window of her aunt’s home and struck her in the head as she watched TV. Her aunt was shot in the shoulder.

Chelsea became the 13th child to die violently in the District this year. Police said last week they think the shooting stemmed from a dispute outside a nearby carryout restaurant, which several people witnessed.

The shooting occurred shortly after an altercation among several people in the 5100 block of Burroughs Avenue NE. The altercation involved a broken car window, Capt. Contee said.

“This was a senseless act of violence, where individuals acted recklessly,” Capt. Contee said. He said the gunfight did not appear to be gang-related.

Yesterday, police also recovered a red Taurus with a broken window that was reported missing at the time of Chelsea’s murder in Prince George’s County, where police have been working with the District on the case, Capt. Contee said.

Chelsea’s death sparked outrage in the District. Chief Ramsey received approval from Mayor Anthony A. Williams, a Democrat, to double the normal $25,000 reward for information in homicide cases.

Last Friday, William Schuiling of Brown Automotive Group added another $25,000, bringing the total reward to $75,000. It was not known whether anyone was eligible to claim the money.

“We’ll be filtering through the leads that we received to see if anyone qualifies for the reward,” Capt. Contee said.

Chief Ramsey said the arrest should bring closure to a neighborhood that doesn’t typically have this kind of violence. He called on residents to help make the city safer.

“The tragic death of an 8-year-old girl, I think, really highlights the violence that some communities actually experience in our city. And it’s going to take the collective efforts of all of us in order to turn this around,” the chief said. “People have to come forward when crimes take place. People have to be willing to get out and help reclaim their streets.”

Mr. Williams said it was too late for Chelsea. “There’s no way that words, there’s no way that even actions can bring back this beloved child,” he said.

The mayor and the chief thanked neighboring police and those who called in tips, as well as the Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marshal’s Office, who worked on the case.

“A lot of people put in a lot of long, hard hours on this case,” Chief Ramsey said.

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