A Teen Released, Nine People Shot. Why?

By Colbert I. King
Saturday, February 2, 2008

The following disturbing report appeared on Page B4 of The Post on Jan. 12: "Five teenagers were wounded in Southeast Washington yesterday in a drive-by shooting, D.C. police said. The shooting occurred about 4:30 p.m. in the 2600 block of Douglass Road. The wounds were not believed to be life-threatening."

End of story. No mention of the victims' names, ages or gender.

On Jan. 22, about two miles from the site of the Douglass Road drive-by shooting, four 16-year-old Ballou Senior High School students, described as bystanders, were shot and wounded as they walked home from school. The gunman got out of his car, fired a handgun, got back in the car and took off, a witness said.

The day after the Ballou shootings, the police arrested 17-year-old Deidrick Johnson and charged him as an adult with five counts of assault with intent to kill in the Douglass Road shooting.

Police also described Johnson as a "person of interest" in the shooting near Ballou.

When police searched Johnson's bedroom in Southeast, they found a loaded .40-caliber handgun that they tied to the Ballou shooting. Police also discovered 58 small bags containing crack cocaine, two large white rocks of crack cocaine and a vial of suspected PCP. Johnson was also charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

"D.C. court records show Johnson has not been charged with other adult crimes," The Post reported.

But let's not stop there.

The rest of the tale is shrouded in the confidential relationship between Johnson and the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services -- the D.C. agency that has had care and custody of him since December 2004.

That's when, according to a DYRS official who asked to remain anonymous because of confidentiality rules, Johnson was arrested and sent to the agency's Oak Hill Youth Center in Laurel on multiple charges of assault, sexual abuse and unlawful entry -- crimes he allegedly committed between May and September 2004. He was formally committed to Oak Hill by a judge in April 2005.

Johnson remained there until October 2005, when the department transferred him to a residential therapeutic services facility in the District. While in that facility, Johnson was charged with unlawful entry in November 2006 -- a crime he allegedly committed during a weekend home visit.

Still under DYRS supervision, Johnson was discharged in December 2006 from the therapeutic services facility to the custody of his family.

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