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'Just heinous' | 2 men dead in triple shooting 1 block from elementary school

Thursday's shooting is the twelth violent crime to happen within a block of Hendley Elementary School this year, DC Police Department data shows.

WASHINGTON — DC Police are investigating after two men were killed during a triple shooting in DC’s Washington Highlands neighborhood Thursday afternoon.

Officers were called to the 4200 block of 4th Street SE, around 1:30 p.m., after receiving reports of shots fired in the area.

MPD Assistant Chief Andre Wright said one man was found dead at the scene, while two other men who were shot drove themselves to a local hospital for treatment.

One of the men later died at the hospital. The other man remains in critical condition.

The two men killed in the shooting have been identified as 37-year-old Marcus Thomas and 28-year-old Russell Williams.

DC Police cameras had previously been set up around the scene of the shooting. Wright said the department is searching for a silver Audi, with tinted windows and a sunroof, that was last seen driving north on 4th Street.

"This particular community from time to time does experience gun violence," said Assistant Chief of Patrol Services South Andre Wright. "This is one of our hotspots. Chief Contee routinely sends a lot of his assets and resources to this area."

Wright went on to stress the importance of the community partnering with police to prevent further violence.

"If you see something, say something, because this is tragic," Wright said. "I know some folks are tired of it, and that some folks don't feel safe."

The shooting happened half a block away from Hendley Elementary School. The DCPS calendar shows the school was out for holiday break.

"It's heinous that you have some bad actors out here that have such disregard for life to not only commit this type of gun violence within a school zone but within the community," Wright said. "This is the kind of behavior that the community has to continue to say 'no more.'"

The shooting remains under investigation, and anyone with information is asked to call MPD at 202-727-9099 or text 50411.

Homicides are up 12% in the District in 2021 compared to 2020, a year that already marked a 16-year-high for homicides. Violent crime has also slightly gone up this year compared to last.

The area around Hendley Elementary has been particularly violent. DC Police data shows Thursday’s incident was at least the 12th violent crime, and fourth homicide, to happen on the same block as the school this year.

Shawntae Lewis lives across the street from where Thursday’s shooting happened with her son. She said he saw the shooting happen.

“I want my child to be able to go out and play,” she said. “I want my child to be able to say ‘Hey Mom, I want to be able to go to the store to get some cookies’ or be able to go to the store and be safe. Bullets have no name and, right now, they don’t care. They’re killing the kids, even the women.”

Lewis pleaded for people to stop hurting others in her neighborhood.

“Put the guns down. Stop killing our kids,” she said. “These are people’s children. We don’t deserve this. It’s two days before Christmas and I can’t even walk into my house without being scared of somebody shooting. Stop it.”

The Washington Highlands neighborhood was a part of MPD’s Fall Crime Prevention Initiative, which until December 18, focused all available department resources and crime-fighting technology into specific communities to reduce violent crimes.

D.C. is not the only community in the region to see more homicides this year.

Across the border in Virginia, Fairfax County has seen its homicide rates increase by 40% in 2021. In Maryland, Prince George's County is reporting triple-digit homicide numbers for the first time in 14 years. Montgomery County says its homicide rate is up more than 20% in 2021. 

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