WASHINGTON — “That little girl - she’s no bad kid and it’s so sad."
Gail Crump said her 11-year-old daughter was friends with a 16-year-old girl who was shot and killed inside a Southeast, D.C., apartment on Father's Day.
DC Police said the shooting occurred around 6:30 p.m. Sunday inside the Worthington Woods apartment complex in the 4400 block of 3rd Street, Southeast.
Police identified the teen girl as Taniya Jones. Sources told WUSA9 she was a student at Ballou High School and did not live in the neighborhood where she was killed.
Police said the girl was from Brandywine, Maryland, and confirmed that she and friends were in the apartment on 3rd Street recording a video at the time of the shooting.
Jones was lovingly remembered, with Instagram posts paying tribute to her.
It’s a heartbreaking loss that sparks fear in Crump and every parent we spoke with Monday.
“This summer I’m trying to teach her to do things like be out, we can go places that are free,” Crump said with tears in her eyes. “You don’t have to be around here, but these are her friends.”
While investigators are still trying to determine what happened inside the first-floor apartment, one neighbor pointed to a broken lock on the front door. The neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said the unit has been vacant for two months and he’s complained to management about teenagers trespassing.
“That’s how they get in,” he explained, “they go around the side and they go through the window - the rental office knows all about this. If they secured the building like I told them, that incident wouldn’t have occurred because they wouldn’t be able to get in.”
WUSA9 contacted management at Worthington Woods and we have yet to hear back.
“They need more mentors,” Crump said. “More people to come here and show them you don’t have to be here gang banging and all that. Look around - they don’t have anything to do here. All they can do is to go the pool and come back and mothers like me if you got a criminal record, you can’t get a job so you’re just here. It’s not like we’re on drugs; it’s just a lack of support.”
Crump said children are acting out because parents are often in a desperate situation themselves, trying to break the cycle of crime and violence that has torn too many families apart.
“We only made mistakes because our moms were on drugs,” she said. “Nobody told me if I went to school and got an education, I could be someone one day. But they have that and I’m here with my kids.
"I take care of them the best way but I’m doing it by myself. I have four kids and it’s not easy doing it by yourself. The city won’t help us get jobs because they look at me - I’m a third-time felon for stealing and I’m not stealing to get high, I’m stealing because they got no daddy and the government money is not enough and when my kids want something, I got to make it happen,” she said.
Crump believes support for struggling families like her own and resources to keep kids off the streets are the lifelines they urgently need.
“Even if they gave me a voucher and said, ‘You have to move out of state,’ I would take my kids and a voucher and never look back,” she said.