Stepped-Up Police Efforts Don't Avert Club Fracas

By Petula Dvorak
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 9, 2006

D.C. police said yesterday they were frustrated that despite efforts to curb juvenile crime, they were unable to prevent a melee that marred a daylight concert organized for teenagers.

"There were fights, bottles thrown, people shot," said D.C. Assistant Police Chief Brian K. Jordan about a fracas outside a Northeast Washington music club Monday evening that ended with two juveniles shot, two beaten and three arrested. "What this says is we have some issues with our young people . . . the way they resolve issues with fights and weapons."

The incident began at an organized event inside the lounge and spilled out onto the street.

"We've worked hard to reach out to kids. We've got recreation centers open as late as midnight to give juveniles a place to go," Jordan said. "We can try to stop it if it happens after 10 p.m. [the teen curfew hour]. But something like this, at 6 o'clock?"

The concert began at 2 p.m. at the Market Lounge Inc., a club above the Florida Avenue Market in the 1300 block of Fifth Street NE. The lounge, which has a good reputation among the city's club crowd, usually is host to weekly go-go concerts, a homegrown version of funk that has been a local favorite since the 1970s.

Members of go-go bands often shout out neighborhood names, acknowledging their fans from all over the city. But sometimes that recognition can ignite petty squabbles.

Bands have been playing at Market Lounge for years with few incidents. But on Monday, during the appearance of acts such as TOB, CCB and the Trinidad Bombsquad, some members of the audience began to brawl.

It started, Jordan said, as "some type of conflict between two neighborhood groups." The club owner ended the concert two hours early and sent about 200 concertgoers into the street.

Shortly after they were bounced, the teenagers milling outside began to fight again, amid the urban market's trucks and forklifts, halal meat, wholesale croaker, bulk bok choy and Mexican fruit stand.

Someone fired a gun in the crowd, shooting a 14-year-old girl in both legs and a 13-year-old boy in one leg. A 17-year-old youth was pistol-whipped. Bottles were thrown, Jordan said.

A 17-year-old sped from the scene in a car, and police stopped him. He had a shotgun in his car, and officers arrested him. Yesterday, tests were being done to determine whether he was the shooter, Jordan said.

Police are looking for another teenager who left the scene in a white Honda. In the chaos of the shooting, two girls, ages 13 and 14, began to beat another girl with a bottle. Police arrested them, and the victim was taken to a hospital, Jordan said.

All the youths injured Monday were treated and released, he said.

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