Gun Stolen From D.C. Officer Used In Crimes

By Allison Klein and Petula Dvorak
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, July 7, 2006

A service weapon stolen from a D.C. police lieutenant has been tied to a spate of crimes in which at least six people, four of them teenagers, were shot in recent months, police records show.

The Glock 17 was stolen in January from Lt. Teresa Brown, who is serving a 30-day suspension for being careless with her firearm. Ballistics tests have linked the gun to at least three shooting incidents and a robbery, police said.

Brown filed a report in January saying the gun was stolen from her desk in the 4th District police station in Northwest Washington. Police lost track of the weapon until last month -- when it was discovered by authorities investigating the escape of two inmates from the D.C. jail.

Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said Brown is not a suspect in the jailbreak or any of the crimes committed with her gun. "I have no reason to doubt her word," he said.

The gun was found between the cushions of a couch in a home in the 200 block of W Street NW, where one of the jail escapees was believed to have lived. Both inmates were captured at other locations within 48 hours of the June 3 jailbreak. Authorities are investigating how the two escaped and whether any corrections officers assisted them.

Police arrested a 16-year-old at the W Street house who they say possessed the gun but have not tied him to other crimes, officials said.

Police officials are investigating how the gun wound up in the house, and the department's Office of Professional Responsibility is reviewing Brown's statements about the theft. Brown could not be reached to comment yesterday.

"OPR is looking into whether or not it occurred the way she reported it," said Cmdr. Hilton Burton, who oversees the 4th District.

Soon after the gun disappeared, the crimes began. The first took place Feb. 18, when the gun was used in a robbery in the 3500 block of Center Street NW, police said. The gun was fired, but no one was hit.

On April 25, the gun was used in a shooting in the 1700 block of Lincoln Road NE. Three teenagers were standing outside when one or more men came up and started shooting, according to a police report. An 18-year-old was shot in the legs and buttocks, a 17-year-old was shot in the leg and another man was shot in the foot, according to the report.

The gun also has been tied to the shooting of a teenage girl May 28 in the 200 block of W Street NW, authorities said. The girl, shot in the back, was a passenger in a car that was hit by gunfire, according to a police report. A 24-year-old man was arrested in that case.

The most recent crime took place June 4 -- not long before the gun was found. Two people, including a 15-year-old boy, were shot at 3:25 a.m. in the 3200 block of Georgia Avenue NW. Police said the two were in a car when shots came from another vehicle. The teenager was hit in the back, and a man who was with him was hit in the left side, according to a police report.

In an interview yesterday, the youth's mother said she didn't know that he was shot by a police-issued gun. "How would we know?" she asked. Her son's wounds were not serious, she said, and he has recovered.

The Washington Post is not identifying the youth or his mother because police consider him a witness.

Ramsey said that a police-issued gun is stolen once or twice a year and that stolen guns are usually involved in other crimes. "In fact, it would've been unusual if we had not been able to link it to something," Ramsey said.

Ramsey said officers are supposed to keep their guns with them at all times or in a secure location. The chief said he is not changing departmental security policies because of the theft of Brown's gun.

He said he is unsure whether the department will be able learn how Brown's gun ended up as a weapon in so many crimes. "We may never know," he said.

Staff writer Robert Samuels contributed to this report.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company