District high school student sentenced to eight years in prison following October shooter of classmate in school parking lot

A 17-year-old District high school student who was arrested and charged with shooting one of his Coolidge High School classmates on the school’s campus last year was sentenced Friday to eight years in prison.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Patricia A. Broderick sentenced Brandon Smothers in connection with the Sept. 19 shooting that left an 18-year-old student injured.

Smothers pled guilty in October to one count of aggravated assault while armed. According to prosecutors, Smothers and his victim got into a verbal altercation inside one of their classrooms. Witnesses at the time said the students were arguing over who was better dressed.

Smothers was escorted out of classroom and then left the school grounds. After school as the students were leaving the building, Smothers approached his classmate in the school’s parking lot in the 6300 block of 5th Street NW. As Smother’s victim began walking to catch his bus, authorities said the two began arguing again. Smothers then pulled out a .380 semiautomatic handgun from his waistband. As the victim began running, Smothers fired the gun several times. The victim was struck four times in his leg and lower body.

Police also praised the victim after several other classmates said the victim shielded other students from the gunfire. The high school was placed on lockdown after the shooting.

“This case demonstrates how quickly a gun can escalate a classroom squabble into a life-threatening confrontation,” said U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. in a statement. “When parents send their kids off to school, they should never have to worry that their child could be caught in a hail of gunfire during the school day. Our decision to charge this shooter as an adult is a reflection of how seriously we take gun crimes in the District and how committed we are to keeping our schools free of gun violence.”

Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.

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