5 Killings Spur More Patrols in Northeast

By Clarence Williams and David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, April 19, 2008

D.C. police will work 12-hour shifts to increase patrols in a stretch of Northeast Washington where five people have been slain since Monday, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said yesterday.

"This level of violence is intolerable, unacceptable," said Fenty (D), adding that officers also will be pulled off desk duties to help stem the sudden outbreak of trouble in the 5th Police District.

The most recent killing took place Thursday night, when a man was shot at close range while getting into his car in the 2800 block of 12th Street NE. Two other people were killed Wednesday, one was gunned down Tuesday, and one was slain Monday. Police said they believe at least two killings were linked to enduring neighborhood disputes.

"We're going to bombard those communities to try to shake loose as much information as we can and to ensure there's no more violence," said 5th District Cmdr. Lamar Greene.

The city has designated three police service areas -- 501 near Lincoln Road and North Capitol Street, 504 in Trinidad and 505 in the 1300 block of Saratoga Avenue -- as "high impact" areas, where police will devote particular attention.

Despite the added police scrutiny, an 18-year-old man was shot in the leg about 10 p.m. in the 1300 block of Saratoga, one of the areas singled out. Police pursued a car and were questioning three people last night.

Earlier yesterday, Assistant Police Chief Diane Groomes described plans to increase patrols by officers. "They will be on the streets, on foot, not only to increase visibility but also to have a strong focus on making some arrests," she said.

She added that Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier called a meeting that included representatives from the narcotics squad, the prostitution squad, the gun recovery unit and other special teams to help develop a strategy.

No one has been arrested in any of the killings.

The violence began Monday afternoon, when William Foster, 28, was fatally shot while in a car at North Capitol and R streets NE. The next afternoon and a few blocks north, Gary Oliver English, 34, was killed by shots fired from a sport-utility vehicle in the 2000 block of Lincoln Road. A man, 60, who police called an innocent bystander, was grazed.

Police said both shootings appear linked to an ongoing dispute between people from the Northeast neighborhood, known as the Triangle, and a group from nearby Todd and T streets.

Wednesday police the body of 38-year-old Tonette Gail Ferguson, who was apparently beaten to death was found in an alley in the 1600 block of Montello Avenue NE. That night, as homicide detectives canvassed for leads, they heard gunshots.

Darvell Stewart, 18, was talking with a friend at 10:45 p.m. when he was shot in the 1100 block of Owen Place NE, around the corner from his house, on Montello Avenue.

His mother, Sharon Stewart, also heard the gunfire. Every time her son left the house, she said, she gave him her cellphone to call her in an emergency. She immediately called him but got no answer.

"I said, 'Something ain't right. Something ain't right,' " she said tearfully in an interview.

At the Stewart home Thursday evening, youth counselor Arlene Venable came by to offer condolences. Not only did she know Darvell Stewart but also remembered Ferguson as a little girl.

"It's hurting. It's scary. You can't do nothing but pray," Venable said.

Sharon Stewart said she doubts the greater police presence will last.

"They're going to do it for a day or so. It will be five police, then four, then three, then none," Stewart said.

But officials insisted yesterday that the police will not give up.

"We have to find a solution," D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) said.

Yesterday, the victim of Thursday night's shooting was identified as Leiutenant Quarles Harris Jr., 24, of Capitol Heights. Police said he was holding his car keys and carrying a bottle of water and a muffin when shot about 11 p.m.

Police urged anyone with information to call 202-727-9099.

Staff Writer Martin Weil contributed to this report.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company