'Brazen' NE Shootings Stun District Officials

"I hope they catch whoever did this," said Raymond Harris, whose wife and 3-year-old daughter were among those shot. (Photos By Sarah L. Voisin -- The Washington Post)
By Mary Beth Sheridan and Donna St. George
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, July 30, 2007

It was about 11 p.m., and Raymond Harris and his family were saying goodbye to their relatives in Northeast Washington, about to head for the car and the trip back to Maryland. Harris ducked into his cousin's apartment to pick up some bags, leaving his wife and children outside, when he heard the chilling sound.

Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop.

One or two gunmen on foot had opened fire on a group of chatting adults and game-playing children outside the four-story building, part of the sprawling Edgewood Terrace complex. Four adults and three children were hit, including Harris's youngest, Jemila.

"My daughter's 3 years old!" Harris exclaimed yesterday after visiting her at Children's Hospital, where she was recuperating from the previous night's attack. Looking weary and dazed, the 35-year-old District Heights resident appeared to be at a loss for words. "I hope they catch whoever did this," he said. His wife was also one of the shooting victims.

Five of the seven victims were treated and released. The others are hospitalized with injuries that are not life-threatening, authorities said yesterday.

The shootings stunned city officials, especially because they occurred during a weekend when police presence was high as part of "All Hands on Deck," a summer crime-fighting plan. All available members of the 3,300-officer D.C. police force were to work two eight-hour shifts this past weekend -- many on foot, on bikes, on Segways and in cars.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) said the initiative wasn't a failure.

"This is a great strategy," he said, "but there's no way in the world we're going to eliminate all crime, especially when people are this brazen."

Police said they had not established a motive or made any arrests. None of the victims seemed to know the gunmen, they said.

"It may be random," Jennifer Greene, commander of the 5th Police District, said at a news conference.

Some people at the complex, though, had foreseen trouble. One resident said there was a "beef" between young men living there and another group from Euclid Street NW.

The gunmen "were supposed to be shooting at some other guys" when they approached the building, in the 600 block of Edgewood Street, Saturday night, the resident said. When the gunmen didn't see their intended victims, she said, they began "just shooting everywhere."

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