WASHINGTON – WASHINGTON - A crowd sprayed with bullets in a drive-by that killed four and wounded five had just returned from the funeral of man slain nearby and a 20-year-old is suspected in both shootings, according to authorities concerned about more retaliation.
Two men and a 14-year-old boy accused of driving the minivan from which the bullets were fired were charged with first-degree murder in Tuesday night's shooting, the worst in D.C. in at least 16 years.
One of the suspects, Orlando Carter, also has been charged with second-degree murder in the March 22 death of Jordan Howe, whose funeral was earlier that day. On March 23, Carter was shot in the head and shoulder hours after his brother was charged in Howe's death, court documents said.
Assistant Police Chief Peter Newshan said at a news conference that by finding out if there are beefs between two neighborhood groups he called crews, police hope to stop more bloodshed.
Crews are more loosely affiliated than gangs, he said. Court documents mention one other person in the van who was not caught.
Police Chief Cathy Lanier called the drive-by an egregious type of retaliation.
"It's ridiculous and the community is tired of it. There is no excuse for it," she said.
Both the drive-by and Howe's killing were in a neighborhood known for drugs and related violence about 7 miles from the White House. Friends and relatives of the drive-by victims returned to the scene, where a blood-covered gauze package lay on a sidewalk that smelled of bleach. Four teddy bears were placed by steps leading to the apartment building.
The building's owner, William Cheek, said he had just walked across the street to buy a lottery ticket when he heard gunshots about 7:30 p.m. and saw many in the group on the ground. His grandson was among the victims.
"I saw him breathe his last breath," Cheek said, a tear running down his face. "He was shot in the head."
Cheek didn't want to identify his grandson but said he was enrolled in a GED class, played basketball and hoped to become a long-distance bus driver. Court documents identified the victims as 17-year-old Tavon Nelson, 19-year-old William Jones III, 16-year-old Brishell Jones and 18-year-old Devaughn Boyd.
"They got shot right on my porch," said Cheek, a case manager at a local community center with programs on substance abuse, job training and anger management.
Carter and Nathaniel Simms, 26, were arraigned and ordered held without bail. The teen also faces a murder charge and a family judge ordered him held at a juvenile facility, saying he was a danger and a risk for fleeing. He has nine convictions dating to 2005.
Defense lawyers for Carter and Simms argued that court documents didn't list probable cause or what role the two are accused of in the latest shootings.
Carter's brother, Sanquan Carter, was charged with murder in Howe's slaying. Court documents say Howe was killed over a missing gold-colored bracelet that apparently belonged to Sanquan Carter. A witness said Orlando Carter was with his brother and was seen shooting a gun at the time of Howe's death, according to court documents.
In Tuesday's shooting, police said they arrested the three after officers chased the silver van into Prince George's County in Maryland and back into Washington and saw an AK-47 type weapon thrown from the van. Other weapons were found inside.
Police said six men and three women were shot. All were in their 20s and 30s, except for one teenager, officials said.
Ross Rauls, 26, said he had been to Howe's funeral and went with a group of friends to a wooded area afterward where they shared memories of their friend. He said he headed to the gym, while the others went to Cheek's building.
"It's sad when the last thing you say to them is 'I'll see you later,"' he said.
He said the young men shot were not gang members.
"They weren't that type of people. It wasn't gang-related," Rauls said. "It's a classic case of the wrong place, the wrong time."
Rico Scott said one of those killed, DeVaughn Boyd, was his cousin.
Boyd was a high school senior who liked to go to the mall and the movies with friends, as well as parties that featured go-go music, a mix of soul, funk and Latin styles, Scott said.
It was at least the worst shooting in D.C. since 1994, when four men fired into a crowd at the O Street Market, killing a teenager and wounding eight other people. A man was convicted of orchestrating the shooting to retaliate against people who had shot him in the stomach and robbed him several weeks earlier.
Washington reported 143 homicides last year, the fewest in nearly 50 years.
Mayor Adrian Fenty said he spoke with the mothers of three of the shooting victims and said that they were "deeply broken."
"Everybody knows what a tragedy this is in our city," he said.