Three sisters wounded in Capitol Street shootings

The Metropolitan Police Department has released surveillance video capturing an early morning drive-by shooting in Northwest D.C. on camera. Thirteen people were injured when gunmen opened fire in front of a crowd outside an apartment building. (The Washington Post)
March 12, 2013

The three sisters went to ladies’ night at Fur Nightclub in the District, as they had virtually every Sunday night, walking two blocks from their apartment in Tyler House to listen to go-go music and wrap up a busy week of school and work.

Afterward, they lingered in front of the eight-story apartment tower on North Capitol Street, just off New York Avenue, chatting with friends and new acquaintances. About 2:10 a.m. Monday, gunfire from one or two cars speeding by raked the street, striking 13 people, the three sisters among them.

“I just say thank God they’re not dead,” said their mother, 47, who had dozed off and didn’t hear the pops that a D.C. police officer described in a report as a “continuous string of gunshots.”

The mother said her daughters, ages 18, 19 and 20, are recovering from groin, knee, leg and hip wounds. Two came home from the hospital on Tuesday and slept through the day. A bullet shattered the third’s femur, and she remained hospitalized.

The Washington Post generally does not identify crime victims without their consent.

On Tuesday, the mother said there will be no more Fur Nightclub for her daughters, two of whom are in college and the other is working. “I worry every time they leave my front door,” she said. “It’s dangerous out there.”

D.C. police reported no arrests and no leads as they investigate the mass shooting in the 1200 block of North Capitol Street, on the western edge of an up-and-coming neighborhood dubbed NoMa, for “north of Massachusetts Avenue.” Most of the victims suffered minor wounds to their hands, feet, arms and legs, although one was struck in the lower back and remained in critical condition Tuesday.

A police report said an officer who was working near the mega-nightclub heard the gunshots and raced in his cruiser to the scene, arriving in time to see victims lying in the street and others scattering to safety.

The report said the officer saw one man dart behind a building next to Tyler House and then return. He detained the man and found a gun that the report said had been tossed over a fence. Police would not say whether the weapon was used in the shootings.

“We are not commenting on evidence,” D.C. police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said. Authorities would not say whether the detained man was arrested or charged with a crime.

Because of the complexities of the case, police assigned homicide detectives to lead the investigation. Police were looking for two cars that sped south on North Capitol Street, one dark in color, the other light gray or silver. It is unclear whether the gunfire came from one or both vehicles.

The police report, made public Tuesday, reveals other details of the shootings. It lists 11 victims — two more walked into hospitals after it was written — six of them male, five of them female. Three are 17 years old; the oldest is 30. Four of the victims listed live in Tyler House. One 17-year-old victim lives three miles from the club, near Fort Totten.

Several cars parked along the street were struck by gunfire. The police report lists seven that were taken into evidence, all different makes and models — a Jeep, a Volvo, a Chevrolet, a Volkswagen, a Mazda, a Chrysler and a Dodge. Police declined to say how many shots were fired or what type of weapons may have been used.

District police released a video that the report said was taken by a security camera outside Tyler House. It shows the speeding cars and several people tumbling to the ground. Some witnesses said Monday that the wounded and others banged on the locked lobby doors to the apartment building in an attempt to get inside. The report said police found several victims in the lobby.

The mother of the injured sisters said they told her that they tried to get inside after they were shot, but the doors were locked. The head of the company that manages Tyler House, which consists of three towers with a single entrance, said he didn’t know whether the doors were locked. But he and police described security measures designed to discourage predators, including barring visitors and removing furniture from the lobby.

The mother said she has called Tyler House, a subsidized community, home for 17 years. She said one of her daughters studies psychology at the University of the District of Columbia and another studies physical therapy at Virginia State University.

She called her stay at Tyler House “17 years too long” but said that as a single mother she cannot afford to leave. “The new places they’re building are all nice,” she said, “but it’s dangerous to walk outside from here to get there.”

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