5 shot in Northeast Washington nightclub

January 26, 2013

A gunman shot five people early Saturday inside a Northeast Washington nightspot that a community leader said has been a promising addition to a neighborhood hoping to attract development.

Police said the incident took place inside DC Sound Stage, a club that neighbors said opened more than a year ago in the 2400 block of Benning Road NE, about a mile east of the rapidly gentrifying H Street entertainment district.

The circumstances remain murky, but police said it appears that the gunman got into a shoving match inside the club about 2:30 a.m. Saturday. Preliminary information suggests he returned a short time later, pushed open the door and opened fire, said 5th District police Cmdr. Andrew Solberg.

A man was shot in the back, and a woman was hit in the chest. Other men in the club were hit in the ankle, the thigh and the buttocks, Solberg said. Police have not established whether the victims were targeted or had been involved in the earlier shoving match.

The club apparently did not have an alcohol license and was using a caterer’s license to sell alcohol, the preliminary police investigation showed.

The club shares its block with a construction office, a hair salon and a Chinese food carryout along a stretch of Benning Road that Advisory Neighborhood Commission Commissioner Lisa White said has been seeking new investment. She said the club, which features a dance floor, pool tables and flat-screen televisions, has been a positive addition to the neighborhood.

“It has not been a trouble spot in the past,” White said. “The club has been good to the community; they’re very active in the community. We’re really trying to establish something on Benning Road. We hope this doesn’t hurt the development we want to come.

“It’s an unfortunate situation that happened there.”

The club is a popular spot for brunches, gospel events and private parties, she said. And it hosts monthly meetings of Kingman Park’s neighborhood group. In December, the club donated space for a Christmas party, area residents said.

“We use the place as a meeting spot because we don’t have too many other options,” White said. “I hope they catch the person who committed this crime.”

The operator of the facility could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Lori Aratani contributed to this report.

Joe Stephens joined The Washington Post in 1999 and specializes in in-depth enterprise reporting.
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