- The Washington Times - Monday, August 10, 2020

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham vowed Monday to arrest the shooters who sprayed more than 100 rounds of bullet into a large cookout early Sunday in Southeast, killing a 17-year-old and wounding 21 other people, including an off-duty police officer.

“I can’t recall a situation where we had that many folks injured by gunfire in one incident in my career,” Chief Newsham said during a press conference. “This was a social gathering of young people … and several people thought it was OK in a large crowd, with a lot of women present, to open fire.”

Of the 21 wounded victims, 12 are women and nine are men.Police believe at least four shooters opened fire during a large cookout around 1 a.m. Sunday in the 3300 block of Dubois Place SE, a residential neighborhood between Fort Circle Park and northbound Anacostia Freeway in Ward 7. A weapon was recovered at the scene.

Killed in the hail of gunfire was 17-year-old Christopher Brown, who was a father of an infant. An off-duty police officer received a critical gunshot wound to her neck. Chief Newsham said Monday that her condition has improved but she is “not of the woods yet.”

The police chief said he does not believe the off-duty officer was armed, adding that there is no evidence to suggest the incident was an officer-involved shooting.

Chief Newsham said that six officers responded to the shooting — not enough to handle the large crowd before the shooting started.

Hundreds of people might have been at the cookout party, in violation of city coronavirus restrictions on large gatherings, he said, adding that no permit for the event had been issued.

“I am very concerned that a gathering of that size was able to accumulate without our managers over at the 6th District being able to prevent that. So we will take a look at whether that can be handled in a better way,” the chief said.”On top of that enormous tragedy, we are also faced with the challenge of how to ensure communities are safer from the spread of COVID by preventing mass gatherings in our city,” Miss Bowser said.

Her order prohibits group gatherings that are larger than 50 people to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Violators could face a fine of up to $1,000.

Meanwhile, civic leaders decried the violence plaguing Ward 7.

Greg Rhett, who previously ran for Ward 7 seat on the D.C. Council, said he woke up Sunday to news of the shooting.

“Like most of us, I am still in shock,” Mr. Rhett said Monday. “We need to figure out what we can do to ensure this can never happen again. This can’t happen again.”

Mr. Rhett said he was particularly concerned that women and children were targeted during the rampage.

“In the old days, there used to be rules,” he said. “But apparently there are no rules now. It used to be a rule that you didn’t shoot women and children. Now there is just so much wrong that we have to face.”

Former D.C. “shadow” senator John Capozzi said he has been working to bring economic development into the area and called the shooting a setback.”It’s just horrific to see this kind of thing happen,” Mr. Capozzi said. “The idea that people are having get-togethers in big groups right now is totally unacceptable.”

The District has recorded 118 homicides this year, a 20% increase over the same period last year. At least 570 people have been nonfatally shot.Solutions to the city’s gun violence remain elusive.

“This is a citywide issue, not a ward issue,” Mr. Capozzi said. “It’s just an epidemic here in the city. There are just too many guns and too many automatic weapons.”

The Metropolitan Police Department is urging anyone with information about the shooting to call 202-727-9099 or text 50411. There is a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

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