D.C. mayor: National Zoo stabbing shows need for more police agency coordination

April 27, 2011

Two days after a fight in the National Zoo ended with one teen in jail and another suffering multiple stab wounds, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray called for more coordination between city police and other law enforcement agencies in the District during festivals and events.

“This incident highlights the need for the National Zoo and other outside agencies to coordinate more closely with our Metropolitan Police Department in ensuring public safety on high-turnout days and special events,” Gray (D) said Wednesday.

Gray also said D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier plans to meet with zoo police officials to discuss the stabbing and future coordination.

About 30,000 people visited the zoo Monday, many for the annual African American Family Day. The large crowds caused zoo officials to close the gates temporarily at one point.

D.C. police and zoo officials coordinated plans for the event before Monday, according to D.C. police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump and Pamela Baker-Masson, a zoo spokeswoman.

“They were supporting us that day,” Baker-Masson said. D.C. police officers didn’t patrol inside the zoo, Crump said.

Zoo police broke up several fights that afternoon, Baker-Masson said. After one such fight, D.C. police say, zoo police officers removed several teens, and a teen was stabbed four times in the chest on Connecticut Avenue NW.

Arrested later that day, Mshairi Alkebular, 16, of Southeast Washington was charged as an adult with two counts of assault with intent to kill while armed in the attack. He was ordered held in jail until a May 6 hearing.

It was unclear why zoo police decided to eject the youths from the zoo rather than arrest them or whether they knew one had a knife, as D.C. police allege he did.

The victim identified his alleged attacker to D.C. police. Alkebular was arrested at Seventh and F streets NW, where, according to court documents, D.C. police discovered a knife in his left pocket.

“I can’t make any comment at this time,” Baker-Masson said.

There was another violent incident at the zoo during African American Family Day in 2000. A teenager wounded seven people at the zoo’s main entrance during a dispute with teens from another neighborhood.

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