2 dead, 1 wounded in Columbia Heights shooting

July 9, 2011

On Parkwood Place NW in Columbia Heights, late-night revelry often progresses into early-morning gambling. On Saturday, a burst of gunfire at the crack of dawn left two men dead and another critically wounded.

All three were shot in the head shortly before 6 a.m. outside a house in the 1400 block of Parkwood, D.C. police said.

Two of the men were pronounced dead at the scene, and the third was taken to a hospital, where he was in critical condition, according to police.

Police identified the slain men as Jimmie Lee Simmons III, 32, and Domonique Barber, 31, both of Northwest.

“He’s not the rowdy type,” said Simmons’s father, who identified his son as Jimmie Simmons IV. “He just got caught up in the wrong place.”

D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) arrived at the scene of the shooting about 10:30 a.m. “This is a terrible setback for our neighborhood, even for Parkwood Place, which has had a notorious reputation for crimes, drugs and gangs,” he said.

By midmorning, about two dozen neighborhood residents had gathered at Parkwood and Ogden Street, fearing that the police would identify the victims as a son who hadn’t come home or a nephew who hadn’t responded to several calls.

A gun was recovered from the man taken to the hospital, Graham said.

Parkwood — described by a longtime neighborhood resident as a “7-Eleven for crack cocaine, open 24-7” — has been plagued by gang activity, drug dealing and prostitution, according to Graham.

“But things had been getting better,” Graham said. Saturday’s shooting was a “horrendous tragedy” for a neighborhood in the midst of a turnaround, he said.

Some residents disagreed with Graham’s assessment of the neighborhood’s progress. Neighbors said they would often see gambling and drinking on the street.

For Cecilia Jones, who has lived in the neighborhood for six years, Saturday’s shooting was evidence that the area’s problems have persisted despite efforts to control crime.

“I’ve seen some but no real change,” said Jones, who is also the president of the Northwest Columbia Heights Community Association. “It’ll take more than arrests to solve the neighborhood’s problems. We need solid police work to root out organized crime and drug dealing.”

One resident, who said he had been convicted of selling crack cocaine during the 1990s, said he was not surprised about the shooting.

“It hasn’t changed for the worse, but it hasn’t changed totally for the better,” said the man, who did not want to be identified because of his criminal record.

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