Shots fired in Columbia Heights after purse-snatching attempt

April 8, 2011

A special police officer working for a housing complex fired shots near the Columbia Heights Metro station Friday morning as he chased a 17-year-old who allegedly tried to rob a woman at gunpoint, D.C. police said.

Gwendolyn Crump, a D.C. police spokeswoman, said no one was injured in the incident, which occurred shortly after 9 a.m. near 14th and Irving streets. She said that the 17-year-old, who allegedly reached into his jacket before the officer fired, was charged with armed robbery and carrying a pistol without a license.

Crump said the incident began when a man with a gun tried to steal a purse from a woman in the 1300 block of Harvard Street NW. The two struggled, and the suspect fled toward 14th Street. Crump said that a witness told two special police officers working in the area and that they ran after the suspect.

The special police officers ordered the suspect to stop. The suspect reportedly reached into his jacket and one of the officers fired, Crump said. The man continued to run.

During the chase, people near 14th and Irving streets scrambled to clear a path as the security personnel ran after the man near the southwest corner of the intersection, a witness said.

The witness said two shots were fired. Crump said the number of shots is under investigation by the department’s security officers management branch.

The suspect was arrested a short distance away by the two special police officers and an off-duty D.C. officer, police said. A weapon was found at the scene, police said.

Special police officers are private security workers who are armed and licensed and have arrest powers. They may be hired by housing complexes, universities and other entities. Crump said the two special police officers worked at a housing complex.

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