In the first interview she’s given describing one of the District’s worst mass shootings in decades, Brown said she was chatting with her friends and singing along with an Alicia Keys song on her iPod when her left leg suddenly gave out and she fell to the ground. Brown can’t recall hearing any gunshots or even the screech of car tires.
As she lay on the ground, she saw smoke rising from the grass and struggled to make sense of it. It was then that she realized she had been shot in her leg, said Brown, who is expected to testify in the coming days against the five men accused of being involved in the shootings. Brown had been shot twice, in her left knee and in her back.
Brown, then 17, looked down at her feet and saw Brishell, an aspiring chef who had been her closest friend since middle school.
“Brishell. Brishell. Brishell,” Brown remembered calling.
Brishell, 16, who had been shot in her right temple, didn’t answer. Brown called out to another friend, DaVaughn Boyd, 18, lying just a few feet from her. Again, no response. Also lying nearby was the body of William Jones III, 19.
Panicked, Brown reached into her jacket, pulled out her cellphone and called 911. “I don’t know what happened, but I think someone shot at us,” she told the operator.
Then Brown called her mother. “I think I’ve been shot,” she cried.
Finally, Brown tried to call Brishell’s mother, Nardyne Jefferies, but she didn’t pick up.
Brown had been shot with an AK-47 assault-style weapon and a .45-caliber semiautomatic, she would later discover. One bullet struck her left knee and exited her inner thigh. The other bullet struck her back and exited under her left shoulder.
In all, four people were fatally shot that evening and six others, including Brown, were wounded — part of a retaliatory killing spree that had begun nine days earlier with the theft of a gold-colored bracelet at a party on Alabama Avenue.
On Tuesday, five men accused of being involved in that string of shootings are scheduled to go on trial in D.C. Superior Court: Orlando Carter, 22; his brother, Sanquan, 21; Jeffrey D. Best, 23; Robert Bost, 23; and Lamar Williams, 23. Each faces about 90 charges, including multiple counts of first-degree murder, conspiracy, and assault and weapons charges. If convicted, all five could face life in prison.
The case is being heard by Judge Ronna L. Beck. It’s not the first time Beck has presided over a case involving one of the Carter men. In November 2009, Sanquan Carter was charged with armed carjacking and other offenses. As his trial approached, Carter’s attorneys argued that he should be released from the D.C. jail and into a halfway house. Prosecutors repeatedly objected, but on March 19, 2010, Beck ordered Carter released to the halfway house.