District police are pleading for witnesses to come forward as they investigate a shooting Wednesday night that left two men dead and a third wounded outside a strip of rowhouses in Southeast Washington.
One of the victims died at the scene and the other at a hospital. The third man was wounded in the legs and was recovering Thursday from injuries that police said were not life-threatening. The dead men were identified as Anthony Chase, 19, and Eric Leeper, 27, both of Southeast.
Police said they did not know of a motive and had not made any arrests.
The shootings occurred about 11:40 p.m. in the 300 block of Ridge Road, in front of a group of new townhouses and across the street from a Housing Authority office.
Officer Araz Alali, a police spokesman, said patrol officers heard a burst of gunshots and raced to the street, but not in time to catch the person or people who fired them.
What police found was a crime scene that stretched several blocks along Ridge Road, just off East Capitol Street. The road was shut to traffic through the night as police gathered evidence.
Thursday morning, officers with a German shepherd continued to scour the crime scene in front of houses along Ridge Road. The sidewalk was littered with bloody gauze bandages.
Alali said Chase’s body was found two blocks away, in the 100 block of Ridge Road SE. It was unclear where the others were shot and where they were found. Two cars parked in front of the townhouses showed damage from bullets — a shattered back window of a maroon sports car and a hole through a taillight of a white sedan.
Cmdr. George Kucik, the head of the criminal investigation division, said detectives had only a general description of a gunman and needed more information.
He urged people to call police and said of the gunman, “Obviously, he shot three people. He has little regard for the public.”
Until the last police car pulled away, the mother of one of the victims gathered across the street with relatives, neighbors and friends, hugging each other through audible sobs. They then retreated to a house on Ridge Road; prayers could be heard through a closed door. More than a dozen people emerged but said they did not want to talk about the shootings.
Reached later by phone, a woman at the house said the family would not comment.
The incident was the latest in a series of multiple shootings in the past week in Southeast.
Police have said they are investigating whether the shootings on Elvans and Stanton roads were related. Authorities do not believe that Wednesday night’s shooting is connected; it occurred more than three miles away.
Wednesday night’s shootings bring to 48 the number of people killed in the District this year. That equals the number of people slain by this time last year.
In 2012, 88 people were killed in the District, the lowest yearly total since the early 1960s.