By Candace Rondeaux
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 16, 2007
It was a beautiful party. There were baby bibs, a crib, booties and the usual silly shower games. Jerrod A. Falls was about to be an uncle. No one suspected that Saturday night's happy occasion would end in a hail of bullets and Falls lying dead in the parking lot.
Prince George's County police are investigating the circumstances of the shooting that killed Falls, 31, and injured his girlfriend. But police and family members say Falls was shot by an acquaintance as family members were leaving the baby shower for Falls's sister.
Yesterday, police issued an arrest warrant for a suspect in the shooting: Eric Dixon of the 7100 block of Greeley Road in the Hyattsville area. Attempts to reach Dixon by phone were unsuccessful.
Police said the trouble started about 7 p.m. when 40 to 50 family members began leaving Jeriesha Falls's baby shower at Woodlawn Recreation Center in the Landover Hills area. Jerrod Falls was talking with his uncle and a couple of other men in the parking lot near the 6900 block of Greenvale Parkway when an argument erupted between Falls and Dixon, Falls's girlfriend's brother.
"Jerrod was trying to walk away. He was telling the boy, 'Please don't do that in front of my family,' " recalled Ronlicia Gordon-Falls, a cousin of Falls's.
In seconds, the friendly family get-together turned violent when Dixon, 25, pushed Falls in the chest, the cousin recalled. As the two men argued, a young child standing nearby ran from the parking lot into the street. When Dixon chased the boy down and then roughly yanked him out of the street, Falls became upset, and the two exchanged more heated words, Gordon-Falls recalled.
"They started shouting at each other," she said. "Then [Dixon] pulled out a gun."
Family members scattered as Dixon began chasing Falls. In the midst of the panic, Gordon-Falls, 17, began screaming, and Dixon turned the gun on her and started shooting, she said. Her cousin sprinted toward her, telling her to take cover behind a car. The shots kept coming, she said. "He was shooting everywhere. Bullets were flying."
Falls collapsed on the pavement after Dixon shot him in the back, Gordon-Falls said. Then, she said, she saw Dixon standing over her cousin and firing rounds into him with a large, black handgun. "When Jerrod sat up, that boy went right up to him and started shooting into him right on the ground," Gordon-Falls said.
She said family members briefly wrestled with Dixon before he broke loose and fled.
Police said Falls suffered several gunshot wounds, consistent with his cousin's account of the shooting. Details about Dixon's background were not available yesterday, and Cpl. Diane Richardson, Prince George's police spokeswoman, said Dixon has several aliases.
Gordon-Falls said Saturday was the first time many in the family had met Dixon. Her cousin, she said, was well liked and a favorite in the family.
"I cried a lot. I cried all day yesterday, and when I woke up, my head hurt from all the crying," Gordon-Falls said. "I was devastated."