Boy Killed, Youth Charged in Roulette Game

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 27, 2006

A Northeast Washington teenager has been arrested and charged in the shooting death of a 13-year-old friend during a game of Russian roulette last week, D.C. police said.

The 15-year-old suspect, whose name was not released because of his age, is accused of killing Isaiah Patterson in the 5100 block of Just Street NE about 11 a.m. Jan. 18, police said.

Isaiah, who lived about a mile away in the 200 block of 53rd Street NE, had skipped classes along with the suspect, police said. Authorities said the teenagers attended Ronald H. Brown Middle School in Northeast. They were joined by three other people at the Just Street house, said Lt. Guy Middleton.

Detectives have not determined who brought the gun to the house, but investigators said that Isaiah and the suspect began to play with the weapon, which had one bullet in its chamber. Each teenager took turns pointing it at the other and pulling the trigger to see whether it would go off, police said.

It fired when the 15-year-old was pointing the weapon at Isaiah, police said. He was struck in the head and pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said they recovered the revolver at the house, and detectives initially thought that Isaiah had shot himself. But forensic evidence and the autopsy revealed that was unlikely, police said.

Detectives then turned their attention to the others who were there, police said, and determined the 15-year-old's role in the deadly game. The youth turned himself in to authorities Wednesday night and has been charged as a juvenile with second-degree murder.

People who answered the door at Isaiah's house said the family had no comment yesterday.

Those who knew Isaiah described him as a kind boy who helped grandmothers with their groceries and attended Sunday school. But some worried that he was about to head down the wrong path in life because of neighborhood pressures and the friends he was associating with.

"Everyone is devastated, because he was a well-liked person," said the Rev. Constance C. Smith, pastor of Hughes Memorial United Methodist Church, where the teenager's funeral was held Wednesday. Smith said that Isaiah had described the suspect to a relative as his "new best friend."

D.C. Council member Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7), who represents the area where Isaiah lived and was killed, said the shooting demonstrated that guns are too accessible on city streets. He said the slaying and game of roulette also highlighted problems with the "adult supervision in the lives of these kids" and others who are the victims of gun violence.

"This shakes our sensibilities," Gray said. "It also raises questions about the values of our young people who find it more important to put their lives frivolously at risk to appear fearless to their friends."

Staff researcher Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.

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