Arlington Man Dies After U Street Shooting

By Henri E. Cauvin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 27, 2006

A 33-year-old Arlington man died early yesterday in the District after he was struck by an errant bullet fired during a dispute over a parking space outside a jazz club on U Street NW, D.C. police said.

The shooting occurred just before 3 a.m., as nightclub activity was winding down and patrons were spilling out onto U Street.

An argument over a parking space had erupted in the 1200 block, police said. Four of the men involved returned to their vehicle, and at least one of them opened fire, police said.

The Arlington man, identified by police late last night as Damon Ward, was hit in the chest, police said. A 21-year-old woman who was also a bystander was hit but not injured seriously, police said.

The man was taken to nearby Howard University Hospital and died just after 7 a.m., police said.

The shooting unfolded in front of Duke's City, one of U Street's newer restaurants, almost directly across from Ben's Chili Bowl, a U Street landmark.

Police said the shooting did not appear to be connected to any of the establishments in that bustling stretch of the U Street corridor.

While deploring the shooting, D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) said the incident did not involve any of the clubs in the neighborhood that had been linked to violence in the past.

"This had no relationship to any alcohol license," Graham said. "This is the type of horrible tragedy that, sad to say, in this day and age could occur anywhere."

Graham said the public safety environment in that area had been improved since the city stepped up enforcement of alcohol regulations. "Things are much calmer," he said.

The historic thoroughfare has seen a wave of change over the past several years as new cafes, clubs and condominium developments have sprouted up on U Street and surrounding blocks.

The changes have restored some of the shine to a neighborhood that struggled after the riots of 1968, but they have also made U Street a much pricier place than it was even a few years ago, particularly for longtime residents and businesses.

Police are asking for the public's help in identifying the shooter or shooters. Anyone with information is asked to call 202-727-9099. A reward of as much as $25,000 is available for information in the case.

Staff writer Martin Weil contributed to this report.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company