D.C. youth, 16, charged as adult in National Zoo stabbing

A 16-year-old from Southeast Washington who police say stabbed another teen four times after a Monday afternoon fight at the National Zoo was charged as an adult and ordered held in the D.C. jail Tuesday.

Prosecutors charged Mshairi Alkebular with two counts of assault with intent to kill while armed in the attack. Alkebular, who wore a blue polo shirt and sagging khaki pants and whose wrists and ankles were shackled, said only his name to the judge during a Tuesday hearing.

Alkebular’s attorney, Premal Dharia of the District’s Public Defender Service, argued for her client’s release, saying it was unclear whether the victim knew who stabbed him or whether he misidentified her client. There was no evidence of a previous relationship between the teens, she said.

But Magistrate Judge Diana Harris Epps was unmoved, calling Alkebular “a danger to himself and others” and ordering him held until his May 6 hearing before Judge Herbert Dixon.

According to court documents, the victim recgonized Alkebular as being from the Barry Farm neighborhood. He tried to elude Alkebular and his friends, the documents said, but a fight nevertheless broke out inside the zoo among the victim, Alkebular and others. It was not known whether the victim was from Barry Farm or another neighborhood.

Alkebular threw chairs at the victim, hit him several times with his fists and then stabbed him twice in an elbow, the victim said, according to the charging documents. Zoo police officers broke up the fight, the victim told police, and removed the teens from the zoo.

But before ejecting the teens, zoo police failed to find a knife on the suspect.

Outside the zoo’s entrance at 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, the victim tried to run from Alkebular and his friends, but Alkebular stabbed him four times in the chest before fleeing to the Woodley Park Metro station, the victim told authorities.

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

The teens were among thousands who visited the zoo Monday, many for the annual African American Family Day.

Epps called the attack “very troubling,” saying the incident marred “such a beautiful day.” The gathering dates to the 1890s; oral history says black domestic workers were required to work on Easter, so Monday was the day of family celebration.

Monday’s attack wasn’t the first violent dispute between teens that took place during the zoo celebration. In 2000, a teenager wounded seven people at the zoo’s main entrance during a dispute with teens from another area of the District. A year later, the shooter was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.
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