A teen honor student was among three people killed during a spate of violence over the long Memorial Day weekend in the nation’s capital. Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police reported via Twitter that 20 people were struck by bullets in 13 shooting incidents over the course of the weekend, including 15-year-old Maurice Scott, who died.
Another shooting victim, a 36-year-old Maryland man, was killed early Tuesday, police chief Peter Newsham said during a press conference. Eight stabbings were also reported, and a 44-year-old southeast Washington man was found dead with a severe neck laceration on Sunday.
The deadly weekend comes amid amidThough the number of homicides has dropped overall since peaking in the early 1990s, Washington saw 160 murders in 2018 compared to 116 in 2017 — a 38 percent increase —
The district has seen 63 homicides so far in 2019, one less than the 64 reported at the same time in 2018, according to online year-to-date police data. The police department couldn’t immediately answer a question from CBS News about whether the data listed online includes the weekend homicides.
Newsham said his department is “working tirelessly” to solve the cases.
Scott, who was a standout JV basketball player at Somerset Prep D.C. public charter school, was killed Sunday about a block away from the school in southeast Washington, reports CBS affiliate WUSA9. He was walking to a convenience store when a gunman got out of a car in a parking lot and opened fire with a long gun, police said.
Police responding to the sound of gunshots found Scott suffering from a gunshot wound to the head, Newsham said. He was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Police later learned that two women and a 9-year-old girl were also shot in the same incident. The girl was shot in the foot, Newsham said. The three surviving victims, who WUSA9 reports are relatives of Scott, suffered non-life-threatening injuries, Newsham said.
Police are reportedly still searching for the shooter and are reviewing surveillance video.
“From all accounts, Maurice was a good kid — he was from the neighborhood,” Newsham said. “Preliminarily, he was not the intended target in this brazen attack.”
Scott’s basketball coach Jimmie Jenkins described him to WUSA9 as one of a kind and a leader on the court.
“You lose a friend, for walking to the store, and you know he has nothing to do with nothing? That’s crazy,” Jenkins said.
A school video of the teen speaking about his interests was posted on Facebook over the weekend by D.C. Ward 8 council member Trayon White, drawing an outpouring of condolences. In the video, Scott smiles and laughs as he says he’s in the video production program at Somerset and likes playing basketball, going to school and eating.
“My personality?” He says in response to a teacher’s question. “I like to chill, I like to laugh, I like to joke around. Be coolin’.”
In an email to the Washington Post, Somerset principal Lauren Catalano said grief counselors were being made available to students Tuesday. She said Scott had “the best sense of humor.”
“Maurice’s smile lit up the school, you couldn’t help but smile back when you saw his dimples come through,” Catalano said.
His twin sister Melissa also attends the school, Catalano said.
White told WUSA9 he heard the gunshots in the neighborhood Sunday and ran to the scene where Scott was killed.
“It was a horrifying scene, to see clothes on the ground, people screaming,” White said.
Another shooting incident in southeast Washington Monday left four men and a 15-year-old boy wounded outside a recreation center. Police released a photo of a gray or silver four-door sedan seen fleeing the scene. Newsham said the car approached a group of people that had gathered and someone opened fire from inside. The victims are all expected to survive, Newsham said. Police are asking anyone with information to come forward.
Responding to a reporter’s question, Newsham dismissed the notion that the violence is the “new normal” for Washington.
“Anyone who suggests that doesn’t understand the resiliency of Washington, D.C.,” Newsham said.
The chief said his department would respond with an increase of police staffing. He said the department already increases staffing during the summer months, when violence can increase, targeting areas most plagued by crime. He said police also work with other governmental groups to provide opportunities for people in at-risk neighborhoods.
The district was among several cities that saw an uptick in violence over the long Memorial Day weekend, including New Orleans and Kansas City. Philadelphia, which saw murders increase between 2017 and 2018 and has already seen a year-to-date increase in 2019, has deployed “dozens” more officers to patrol the streets this summer, beginning over the holiday weekend, according to the Philadelphia Tribune.,
“Unfortunately, in large cities like this, from time to time you’ll have an uptick in violence,” Newsham said. “But we stand ready along with our community to make sure these folks are held responsible, because we will not tolerate it.”