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As D.C. Police Falter, Revenge Fills the Void

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By Barbara Vobejda and Ira Chinoy
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, December 5, 2000

Eric Miles carved his own war memorial, a wall of names on a faded sheet of paper slipped into his scrapbook.

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Skeeter, Fat Mike, Ronnie, Shawn, Lil Man. "All My Dead Hommy's," he scrawled across the bottom.

Fifty names. Boys he'd grown up with in his Southeast Washington neighborhood. Teenagers he'd played basketball with on the cracked court near his housing project. One was his cousin.

By the time Miles was killed at the age of 22 in 1995, the page was full.

'A Way of Life'

Criminologists tend to explain the urban killing fields by pointing to drugs and gangs and turf wars. But the Barry Farms killings show something more chaotic and intangible.

"It isn't coherent," said Patrick Rowan, an assistant U.S. attorney who has prosecuted homicide cases from the Barry Farms area. "On any given day, a guy's got a loaded gun in his hand. It's not like they plotted for eight years to get back at these guys."

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