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'It's something that no student should have to walk up on' | Gunfire damages elementary school in Southeast DC

Police cordoned Hendley Elementary School, on the 400 block of Chesapeake Street SE, off with tape just before students started classes.

WASHINGTON - Students and staff at one Southeast D.C. school learned Thursday morning that their building had been damaged by gunfire overnight.

MPD responded to the 400 block of Chesapeake Street SE around 10:40 p.m. Wednesday after the department received a report of a possible shooting.

Officers then proceeded to canvass the block near Hendley Elementary School. MPD ultimately found seven shell casings, but no damage to any property.

But, on Thursday, around the start of classes at Hendley, the scope of the shooting became more clear.

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MPD said staff discovered gunfire had damaged a front window of the elementary school.

Markus Batchelor, a DC State Board of Education member, showed up to Hendley for a previously scheduled visit around 10 a.m.

He said staff did not find the damage until moments before students entered the building. Batchelor said staff directed school children to walk into the school, around police tape, through alternative entrances.

"It's something that no student should have to walk up on the first thing in the morning," he said.

Batchelor said he was disappointed that MPD did not discover all of the damage during its initial canvas of the crime scene. He said Hendley had been previously promised enhanced communication from officers when crime happens around the school building.

"The fact that that communication fell through and school staff had to find it themselves I think is an unfortunate incident," Batchelor said.

An MPD spokesperson released the following statement when questioned about the department's canvassing of the scene:

"Normally, when these type of incidents are brought to the attention of the (MPD) School Safety Division, MPD notifies/contacts DCPS Office of School Safety Division, as well as, the school administration when the school is in session."

According to an MPD report, damage to the school is estimated to be more than $1,000.

This is not the first time that Hendley Elementary has been confronted with violence outside its walls.

In 2017, the school found itself in the middle of a neighborhood turf war, according to police. It once even had to go on lockdown while children were playing outside during recess due a nearby shooting.

MPD data shows there have been 13 violent crimes within 1,000 feet of Hendley since the beginning of 2019.

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