D.C. police on manhunt after off-duty detective shot in Southeast Washington


Streets were closed Wednesday morning as police investigated a shooting near Pennsylvania and Southern avenues SE in Washington. (Peter Hermann/The Washington Post)

An off-duty D.C. police detective was shot and another off-duty officer came under attack early Wednesday amid a recent burst of violence in the District.

Police said the same group, riding in a car, fired on the officers in separate incidents only minutes apart in Southeast Washington. The detective told authorities that he was attacked while being carjacked in his personal sport-utility vehicle.

District officials said that the investigation was continuing and that there was no immediate indication that the assailants knew their targets were law enforcement officers.

The wounded detective, a 24-year veteran, was shot four times and underwent surgery, D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said. He was not identified.

The shootings sparked a frenetic pre-dawn pursuit through city neighborhoods and then a manhunt involving officers from the District and Prince George’s County police forces and U.S. Park Police. One suspect was arrested, and an intense search continued Wednesday night for the other assailants.

D.C. police reported a surge in carjackings and shootings that began Friday night and continued into the new week. The carjackings occurred in Police Districts 6 and 7, historically the city’s most violent precincts; the shootings were scattered across much of the city. Despite, the recent outburst, violent crime is generally down this year compared with the same period last year. Homicides, however, are an exception.

About the attempted carjacking, Lanier said it appears that the wounded detective “never had a chance to fire back.”

On Wednesday evening, police identified the arrested suspect as Romeo Hayes, 27, of Southwest. He was charged with two counts of assault with intent to kill.

The incident came amid an unusually violent stretch in the city.

On Wednesday night, four men were wounded by gunfire in the Lincoln Heights area of Northeast, D.C. police said. One man was said to have been wounded critically; the others were described as conscious and breathing, said Officer Paul Metcalf, a police spokesman.

Officers responded to a report of the shooting, near 46th Place at Central Avenue, about 9:30 p.m. It was not clear whether Wednesday’s shooting was related to any other recent incidents.

Since Friday night, at least 18 people have been shot, one of them fatally, according to police reports. That includes one incident in which police said six people were wounded in Southwest.

Three people were carjacked — one victim was shot, another stabbed and a third briefly abducted. Police said they did not know whether any of the carjackings — which occurred Sunday and Monday east of the Anacostia River — are related to one another or to the incidents Wednesday.

Violent crime overall in the District is down 12 percent compared with the same time last year, though there have been more homicides and assaults with weapons other than guns. There have been fewer nonfatal shootings and robberies. Carjackings are down 14 percent compared with 2013.

The attacks on Wednesday began about 2:45 a.m. when an off-duty female officer was confronted near Alabama Avenue and Suitland Parkway, just a few blocks from the 7th Police District station, police said. Authorities said gunshots were fired from a burgundy Nissan Altima, but no one was hit.

Paul A. Quander Jr., the deputy mayor for public safety, said the officer, in her personal vehicle, followed the Altima through the Hillcrest neighborhood in Southeast, trying to get a license plate number.

The Altima got to Pennsylvania and Southern avenues, where the detective was stopped at a traffic light in a dark SUV. Lanier said the Altima tried to cut off the detective, who realized that he was being carjacked. The detective tried to back up, but the Altima rammed his vehicle and someone inside opened fire, the chief said.

Both cars sped along Southern Avenue — on the Maryland border — with the Altima ramming the officer’s SUV as a gunman continued to shoot, Lanier said. It was unclear whether one was chasing the other or the vehicles were side by side. The SUV stopped a few blocks away, at Bowen Road SE, where the officer was found wounded, police said. The Altima sped away.

Prince George’s police said a county officer spotted the Altima near Old Central Avenue, just over the line, and pursued it back into the District. The chase ended when the Altima crashed into a fence in the 5500 block of Hunt Place NE. By that time, there were two or three men in the car, Lanier said. Hayes was arrested, and the others escaped, police said.

Police said the Nissan, which had New York license plates, may have been stolen. D.C. police are asking that anyone who may have encountered the Nissan or witnessed the shooting to call 202-727-9099. Authorities said there is a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Lanier said that the people in the vehicle may been involved in other confrontations.

“The Nissan Altima is in our possession right now, but we don’t have all the people who were in it,” Lanier said.

The incidents involving the officers come after other carjackings in recent days.

On Sunday, a man told police that he complied with a gunman’s demands and got out of his white Chevrolet Impala on Hartford Street SE. The victim said he was knocked to the ground and shot in the arm, a D.C. police report said.

In a carjacking Monday night, police said, a 31-year-old woman was cut off by a black SUV as she paused at a stop sign on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, near the Naval Research Laboratory. The woman told police that two men entered her gold Mercedes-Benz and forced her at gunpoint to drive eight miles. She was freed after handing over her $3,500 wedding band and a cellphone.

Victoria St. Martin, Lynh Bui and Clarence Williams contributed to this report.

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Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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