Mother had tried to get D.C. teen off streets before he was slain

Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said Darius Cannon was the first teenager killed in D.C. in more than 16 months. He is the first teenaged juvenile to be killed in that time period. This version has been updated.

April 8, 2013

His mother wanted to send him to North Carolina, where his brother is studying to be an accountant. She bought her 16-year-old son the newest video-game systems to keep him off the streets of Southeast Washington.

But Darius Cannon had a girlfriend, and on Saturday, the Anacostia High School student walked the three blocks from his home in Woodland Terrace to hers. He was shot and killed on his way back about 12:30 Sunday morning, his abdomen pierced by a single bullet in the 2700 block of Langston Place, just off Alabama Avenue.

“I wanted to get him out of here,” the boy’s mother, Linda Cannon, 49, said Monday. “I didn’t move fast enough.”

Darius was the first teenaged juvenile to be killed in the District in at least 16 months. None were killed in 2012, which concluded with the fewest number of killings in the city in a half-century. By comparison, six teenage students were killed in neighboring Prince George’s County in a six-month span that ended in February.

D.C. police said they know of no suspects in Darius’s death, although privately they say they are looking at gang members with possible connections to the neighborhood’s Woodland Terrace Crew.


Darius Cannon, 16, was killed early Sunday in Southeast Washington. (Family Photo)

Darius’s family members said they cannot think of a reason for killing a teenager they described as a quiet boy who liked stylish clothing and who they said wanted nothing to do with the drug culture. He was the youngest of 14 children, including three sets of twins.

“I’ve tried to find answers, and I can’t,” said brother Earl Cannon, 32. “Nobody is talking. Everyone is in disbelief. Darius is the last person to get caught up in something like this. It’s a senseless murder.”

Relatives said Darius spent most of his time in a mentoring program run out of Woodland Terrace’s recreation center that aims to help at-risk kids escape their dangerous environs. His mother said her son looked up to one of his older brothers, Rashad, who is attending Shaw University in North Carolina. She was planning to move Darius in with his brother.

A D.C. school system spokeswoman confirmed that Darius was a student but declined to provide details. Trayon A. White, a member of the D.C. Board of Education, said Darius went to Anacostia High. He said he had known Darius since he was in elementary school. White runs the mentoring program, Helping Inner City Kids Succeed, that Darius had been enrolled in for the past three years.

“Darius was real quiet,” White said. “He didn’t really speak much. You’d never know he was in the room.” He said Darius had taken up boxing and seemed to love the after-school program, which took teens on field trips to college campuses and theme parks and helped them find summer jobs.

White said Darius grew up among a “group of young men who don’t have any direction, who are vulnerable to be caught up in senseless things. . . . Sometimes they do things that aren’t right.”

The school board member, a critic of how city leaders address crime, expressed frustration that he can quickly get money from a city program for a funeral, “but I got kids who want to go to college and I can’t get money for them.” He added, “There needs to be resources allocated to ensure our future has a chance.”

Keith L. Alexander and Cheryl W. Thompson contributed to this report.

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