About 20 to 25 years ago, Bruce Johnson interviewed a young man on a street corner in Southeast, D.C. He carried a gun. He dealt drugs. He was 12 to 14 years old. And now WUSA9 is trying to find him.
Bruce and his photojournalist knew they were interfering with commerce, but convinced the boy to talk about why he and his friends were selling drugs and why everyone was packing a weapon.
The boy agreed with two stipulations — no names and no faces.
He told Bruce he got the gun from a “pipe head,” which he said is slang for someone who smokes crack. He said he traded coke for the gun.
“There’s a drug war going on,” the boy said, as his reason for packing heat.
The unidentified D.C. boy told Bruce he had used the gun before and would use it again for protection.
“No telling who might walk up on you,” he explained.
Bruce asked whether the gun made him not afraid of who might walk up on him.
“Yeah, I’m afraid,” he said. “You’re gonna be afraid. Why ain’t you gonna be afraid? Polices carry guns; they afraid, right?”
However, the boy explained this was something he has to do to survive on the streets of Southeast Washington in the 1990s.
Bruce is searching for that boy or anyone who knew him.
“I’ve always wondered over the years if that young guy made it out of here,” Bruce said.
If you know anything about that day, or who that boy was, please email Bruce at firstname.lastname@example.org or send him a tweet @BruceJohnson9.