D.C. police probe whether shootings on corner are related

She counted a half-dozen gunshots on Friday. A few days earlier, she’d heard nine.

“Help!!!” a frustrated Julianne M. Robertson King posted to an Internet chat board run by the D.C. police. “Our block has turned into a shooting gallery.” The 52-year-old lawyer, who lives near North Capitol Street and New York Avenue, added in an interview: “I’m sure I called the police before the last shot was fired.”

In all, seven people were wounded on the same D.C. street corner on consecutive weekends. Police are trying to determine whether the shootings are related. The youngest victim from Friday’s shooting is the most severely injured — a 14-year-old boy struck in the abdomen. He remained hospitalized Monday but is expected to recover.

Authorities have released few details of their investigation but have said Friday’s shots erupted about 9 p.m. and may have been fired from a block north, at Hanover Place — described by residents and confirmed by police as a historic open-air drug market known for heroin and marijuana.

Police said most of the victims were struck in their lower extremities, and they aren’t yet sure if anyone specific was targeted. One victim was a woman.

Authorities said preliminary leads point to a possible dispute between groups on either side of New York Avenue. Residents talked of a long-simmering dispute between groups at First and O streets to the north and at Sursum Corda, an experimental public housing complex to the south. A sign on a front door of one Sursum Corda building reads: “Drug Free, gun free community.”

No arrests had been made as of Monday afternoon.

On Monday, a collection of patrons, old and young, were hanging out in front of the Big Ben liquor store, D&V Market and an eatery that advertises chicken and biscuits.

Manoj Singh, the 36-year-old manager of the liquor store, said he closed early after Friday’s shootings and returned “to clean the blood from in front of the store.” He also lives in the neighborhood, he said, and noted that “shootings happen, but not so close.”

The shootings occurred on the north side of New York Avenue, steps from the main traffic artery for thousands of daily commuters in and out of the District. The seven-lane thoroughfare is also a barrier — between communities, between political wards 5 and 6, between an area of the city transformed by booming development and one struggling to overcome the stigma of drugs and crime.

To the south is NoMa, branded by developers and marketers building a large residential and retail complex north of Massachusetts Avenue, from which the acronym is derived. On a map, NoMa’s borders stretch up beyond New York Avenue into Truxton Circle, though few people living there feel part of the luxury amenities advertised.

New development is coming to Truxton Circle as well, though residents are fighting the proposed transformation of a vacant lot on Hanover Place NW into one of the District’s new medical marijuana dispensaries. “It won’t help us,” said M. Marie Maxwell, who has spent a decade living in Truxton Circle and is conducting a study of its residents dating to the 19th century.

She described New York Avenue and North Capitol Street as a longtime hangout for nefarious groups. “Whatever the cause of this shooting,” Maxwell said, “there’s been a problem there for years.”

King, the lawyer who wrote on the message board, said she grew up in the District, moved away, and returned three years ago. She fell in love with Truxton Circle and “the vibrant mixture of long-standing residents and new arrivals.” Now, she said, she plans to “leave as soon as I can.” Her 16-year-old daughter moved in with her in March, she said, and “I cannot take the risk of having her hit by gunfire on her way from the bus stop to home.”

 
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