- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Mourners filled Shiloh Baptist Church in Northwest yesterday to say goodbye to a 9-year-old boy killed by gunfire, a scenario that residents and authorities say happens too often.

About 200 family members, friends and school officials gathered to remember Donte Manning, who died April 26 at Children’s Hospital. He was shot March 24 while playing with a group of children in front of the Warner Apartments on 13th Street NW in Columbia Heights.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams spoke at the service and called the death “a reflection of our own communities.”

“We have to believe that we can do something to sow the seeds of peace in our community. … All of us have a personal responsibility,” Mr. Williams said. “Death is a part of life, but when it takes the life of a youth, we’re horrified, we’re saddened, but we’re also mystified in trying to understand how we can lose a young life like this.”

At the front of the church was a floral arrangement spelling out the word “innocence.”

Those who knew the boy recalled his bright smile and easygoing personality.

“He never fought, no matter what anyone did to him,” said Carol D. Young, the boy’s teacher at Meyer Elementary School. “He told me about how a couple of kids were bothering him, and I said, ‘You’re a pretty big boy now; you’ll have to learn to stand up for yourself.’ He looked me dead in my face and said, ‘Miss Young, that’s not me; I have to talk it out.’”

The Metropolitan Police Department has not made an arrest in the shooting, but investigators do not think the child was the intended victim.

Doctors kept the child breathing with the help of a respirator, but he died four days after being taken off the life support.

Police said a drug raid was conducted at a nearby apartment building just before the shooting and that the shooter fired a handgun from the corner of 13th and Euclid streets, striking the boy in the face.

Police do not know whether the raid and the shooting are related, but yesterday distributed fliers throughout the church announcing a reward. Investigators hope the fliers will rejuvenate the investigation, which they said has been hampered by witnesses not coming forward.

The reward for information has been doubled to $50,000, and anybody with information is asked to call 202/727-9099.

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