By Clarence Williams and Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
A series of recent shootings and an assault left nine people dead in a section of Northeast Washington, leading to demands by residents and community leaders for a strong city response. Police have increased patrols in the area but have made arrests in only three of the cases.
These are the victims, all slain in the city's 5th Police District:
Tory Wilcher, 30
Hours before his death, Wilcher cashed a check he received for plumbing work, worth about $1,000, and then flashed hundreds of dollars at a neighborhood dice game. Police said an argument erupted over money, and Wilcher got into a scrape with 18-year-old Vincent Mills Jr., of Hyattsville. Wilcher, of Southeast, was shot in the head. His body was found about 10 p.m. in the 800 block of 19th Street. His pockets were turned inside out, and his money was gone. Mills was arrested April 27 and charged with second-degree murder.
William Foster, 29
He was killed at 5:20 p.m., his body found in a car at North Capitol and R streets. The slaying appears linked to drug turf wars and rivalries involving three groups of young people in Northeast Washington, police said. Foster, who lived in Suitland, had been in and out of trouble, with two convictions on drug charges.
Gary Oliver English, 34
Barely 24 hours after Foster's death, English, a Comcast mechanic, was killed nearby. English was in the 2000 block of Lincoln Road at 5:40 p.m. when someone opened fire from a passing SUV. A 60-year-old man walking nearby was grazed in the shoulder. English died from multiple gunshot wounds. Police said they believe that the killer was targeting English, who lived in the neighborhood, and that the shooting was somehow linked to Foster's killing. They said they were investigating whether English had ties to gangs in the area. Over the years, he had been convicted three times on drug charges; his most recent conviction was in 2006, for assault, court records show.
Tonette Gail Ferguson, 38
The only recent victim not killed by gunfire, Ferguson was beaten to death, perhaps with a hammer, authorities said. Her body was found about 8 a.m. in an alley off the 1600 block of Montello Avenue. Police arrested Oliver Jones, 50, three days later and charged him with first-degree murder. They said they found bloodstained tools and other evidence of blood in his apartment.
Darvell Stewart, 18
D.C. police were in Stewart's neighborhood, looking for evidence and witnesses in Ferguson's slaying, when they heard the sudden burst of gunfire that killed the teenager.
Stewart was talking with a friend at 10:45 p.m. when he was shot in the 1100 block of Owen Place, around the corner from his home on Montello Avenue. His mother, Sharon Stewart, acknowledged that he had had run-ins with the law that led to stays in several group homes while in his teens. His most recent stint was at a home in Minnesota last year after an altercation with a marshal.
He had been attending Sunrise Academy charter school. If he stayed out of trouble and performed well in school, he would have been eligible for a paid apprenticeship with the city. Police believe the slaying might have been domestic related.
Leiutenant Quarles Harris Jr., 24
He was still holding his car keys, a muffin and a bottle of water when he was found in the 2800 block of 12th Street, shot to death, at 11 p.m. in the driver's seat of a leased SUV. Harris, of Capitol Heights, had been awaiting trial on credit card fraud charges in a case involving identification information stolen from passport applications. Police said they are investigating whether that case played a role in his slaying but have not settled on a motive or suspects.
George Douglas, 18
Earlier in the night, he had called his father to say he was at a bus stop on his way to his grandmother's home. He never made it. Douglas, a senior at Spingarn High School who worked in construction part time, was found at 11:45 p.m. on CSX railroad tracks in the 2700 block of 26th Street, unconscious from a gunshot wound. He died a short time later. Last week, police arrested a 15-year-old in connection with the case.
Brandon Gaines, 25
His body was found at 7:30 p.m. near his home in the 2000 block of Maryland Avenue. He had been shot multiple times. Police said they are looking into whether his shooting is tied to an investigation into a drug ring in the Carver Terrace area. Gaines had previous brushes with police, dating to his teens, including a drug conviction.
Melvin Seals, 30
Police were patrolling just a block away when Seals was shot at 2 a.m. at Morse Street and Montello Avenue, in front of a community center. He was hit 17 times. He recently had graduated from a city program that led to a position with the city's Public Works Department.
D.C. police offer rewards of up to $25,000 for information leading to arrests and convictions in homicide cases. Authorities urge anyone with information to call detectives at 202-727-9099.