NINE DAYS THE STORY BEHIND THE SOUTHEAST SHOOTINGS
Part Two: The Southeast Washington drive-by shootings: Deadly retaliation
Friday, June 4, 2010
Sixth and Chesapeake streets SE was Orlando Carter's little realm, where police said his peculiar charisma and entrepreneurial zeal made him a natural leader of the crack and marijuana trades.
There, late at night, when Harry's Wings 'N Things, Dee's Barber and Beauty Salon and Chesapeake Big Market are shut behind iron grates, a furtive economy thrives in the alley and parking lot behind the businesses.
You'll find scores of enterprises just like it in the poorer parts of the city: young men with their heads on swivels, talking incessantly on cellphones and rarely standing still, addressing customers with nods and hand gestures, then retreating to other dark places, returning shortly with the goods. It's efficient and lucrative.
All in all, detectives said, Carter, 20, seemed comfortable in his domain.
Then someone walked up and shot him in front of Dee's -- almost killed him.
Right there in his own house, so to speak.
It was Tuesday evening, March 23, less than 48 hours after Carter; his brother Sanquan Carter; and two other men, Jeffrey Best and Nathaniel Simms, allegedly wreaked lethal havoc on some people outside an apartment building in a beef over a missing bracelet. A young man named Jordan Howe, who had a lot of friends, had been killed in that indiscriminate spray of gunfire. And now Orlando Carter was bleeding from bullets himself.
No one familiar with the retributive cycles of street violence in the District thought it was a coincidence, including homicide detectives. They said the shooting in front of the barbershop, amateurishly inept, brought massive retaliation a week later: a drive-by attack that killed three people and wounded six.
What happened at Sixth and Chesapeake remains murky. Detectives said Carter was less than talkative at a hospital that night. But they managed to piece some of it together.
A little after 6 p.m., Carter and some other young men (all equally reticent, it turned out) were passing time on the sidewalk when suddenly another man appeared, striding toward them with a semiautomatic pistol until the muzzle was a few inches from Carter's forehead, one law enforcement source said.
The gunman squeezed the trigger . . . and nothing happened. Maybe he forgot about the safety. Carter grabbed the attacker, and they wrestled over the weapon, which went off. The bullet grazed Carter, carving a divot in the right side of his head. As he staggered back, letting go of his would-be killer, a second round slammed into his right shoulder and he crumbled to the sidewalk, helpless.
He was a fish in a barrel.