Girl, 7, Wounded as Gunfight Erupts in Neighborhood

By Clarence Williams and Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, March 29, 2008

A 7-year-old girl was shot and wounded in Northeast Washington yesterday, when a gun battle suddenly broke out on the street where she was playing, D.C. police said.

The girl's arm was apparently fractured by the shot that hit her about 4 p.m. in the 1600 block of E Street NE, in a neighborhood that has been plagued by gunfire this week.

"This is crazy around here," the girl's aunt said of the gunfire. "I just don't understand it. It's being going on for the last four days."

Expressing indignation, D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said she considered the girl's wounding "like shooting one of my officers."

Lanier expressed frustration that the gun battle erupted despite a heightened police presence prompted in part by what police described as an ongoing dispute between rival groups.

"It doesn't matter if I have a cop on every block," Lanier said.

On Wednesday a man was shot in the neck about a block away, near 16th and D streets NE, said Cmdr. David Kamperin, head of the 1st Police District. On Thursday, a man was shot in the foot a few blocks away, Kamperin said.

In yesterday's outburst, police said it appeared that four men came from an alley on E Street near 16th Street and began shooting toward the other end of the block. At least one person from that end of the block fired back, police said.

Shell casings found at the scene, a mile northwest of RFK stadium, indicated that as many as four dozen shots were fired and more than one gun was used, police said.

The aunt said many people were on the street in the warm spring afternoon, as her niece, who attends Gibbs Elementary School, played in front of the door to her house.

A fellow Gibbs student said she understood that the girl was shot while playing a game of tag.

There were gunshots, screaming and running, the aunt said.

Lanier said she visited the girl at the hospital. She is a "smart little girl," Lanier said.

The aunt was upset, she said, because her niece was hit. "It could have been anybody," she said, adding that the violence "has got to stop."

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