D.C. Police Seek Suspect in Shooting of 2 Near Columbia Heights Metro

 D.C. police search for bullet fragments outside the Columbia Heights Metro Station at 14th and Irving Sts. NW, the site of a reported double shooting this afteroon.
D.C. police search outside the Columbia Heights Metro Station at 14th and Irving Sts. NW, the site of a double shooting this afteroon. (Justin Jouvenal - The Washington Post )
By Theola Labbé-DeBose
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 19, 2009

Two people were wounded yesterday afternoon when a gunman opened fire near the busy Columbia Heights Metro station in Northwest Washington, police said.

The shots were fired shortly after 3 p.m. at the southwest entrance of the station, near 14th and Irving streets NW. The victims, whose names were not released, were taken to hospitals with wounds that are not believed life-threatening.

The violence brought the area of shops and restaurants to a halt for much of the afternoon, with traffic stopped nearby. The station entrance also was closed for a while as police searched for shell casings.

Authorities said the trouble began with an altercation between two men on the Metro. After the men got off the train, one pulled a handgun from his waistband and began shooting.

The man hit his intended target in the lower leg, police said. But he also hit a bystander, grazing that victim in the leg. Then he fled on foot, heading west on Irving, police said. Police were looking for the gunman last night.

Assistant Police Chief Diane Groomes said it was not immediately clear what led to the dispute.

The shooting took place in the heart of the redeveloped business corridor of Columbia Heights, near the Target and other stores. Residents and visitors crowded on the sidewalks, peppering police with questions. The neighborhood has been beset with violent crime this year, including a slaying last week.

"This is insane. This is madness," said D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who came to the scene. "You have cameras, you have witnesses and you have police here -- still you have a shooting." Graham said police believe that the fighting men got on the Metro at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, where crowds had gathered for the start of the D.C. summer jobs program. As many as 10 people might have been involved in a fracas, he said.

Peter Gruskin, 24, who lives nearby, was with a friend and planned to go to a sandwich shop but was stopped by the police tape.

"The fact that someone would do this in broad daylight is pretty scary," he said.

Staff writer Lena H. Sun contributed to this report.

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