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Family members think shooting victim may have died while police waited to secure building

Eric Carter shot his brother and was then killed by police. But why did it take hours for police to go inside and rescue the victim?

WASHINGTON — A D.C. family is seeking answers.

They want to know if police could have saved one brother's life after the other brother shot him and then opened fire on police.

It happened Monday night on Savannah Terrace in Southeast. One officer was saved by his bullet resistant vest. Both brothers are dead.

Alphonso Carter's mother and sister think police waited far too long before going in to see if Alphonso Carter had survived. His brother had attacked him with a handgun in the bathroom of his mother's apartment.

"You know the sound of guns?" Gloria Carter said, describing what she heard. "Click, click." She's now mourning the deaths of two adult sons, Eric Carter, who was killed by police, and Alfonso Carter, who was killed by Eric.

RELATED: DC officer shot, suspect dead in Southeast barricade situation

Police said Eric Carter opened fire on responding officers -- hitting one and causing minor injuries -- before a barrage of police gunfire killed him.

At the scene Monday night, their sister Renee Carter described how terrified she was about what was happening with Alfonso, who was still in the apartment. "We want to know when you're going to put him in the paramedic?What is his vital signs?" she said. "They're playing chess. We're playing life. What's happening with my brother?"

Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham said his officers did the best they could. "After the male came out and shot at our officers, it was unclear if there was a second shooter," said Newsham. "So we declared a barricade, we had to have our emergency response team come in to ensure the scene was safe. When they did that, they located another male inside the apartment, suffering from a gunshot wound."

RELATED: Man hurt in SE DC shooting

In daylight, you can see the intensity of the gunfire. The apartment is riddled with bullet holes.

Renee Carter said it took hours for police to go into the apartment after the shootout with Eric. She thinks if they'd gone in more quickly, they could have saved Alphonso's life. "We want answers," she said. "We want to know the time of death. We want to know the time of death that Alphonso died. And why did it take you so long to go and find the status of Alphonso?"

It's not clear if the medical examiner can pinpoint the time of death precisely.

Family members say Eric Carter was addicted to opiates and trying to quit them.

The officer saved by his bullet resistant vest? He was treated at a hospital and later released.

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