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U Street shooting is latest in long history of violence between rival crews, police say

Jamal Coates was slain in the U Street corridor on Tuesday.
Jamal Coates was slain in the U Street corridor on Tuesday. (Courtesy of Brian Weaver)

He said Coates, who had an arrest record, belonged to the "1-7" crew, based around 17th and Euclid streets NW in Adams Morgan. In the summer of 2009, he was among 30 young people who spent six weeks in Guatemala teaching basketball to local children with Hoops Sagrado, an organization Weaver founded that aims to encourage peaceful coexistence by exposing District youths to foreign culture.

"You have this kid by the neck, and you're trying to wrestle him out of that lifestyle, and then suddenly something like this happens," Weaver said.

Standing behind yellow police tape at 11th and U, Weaver sounded weary as he recited a roster of young people he has met in his work, all now dead or jailed.

Ashley McRea, 21, whose funeral Tuesday preceded the violence on U Street, wasn't the first in her family to be gunned down. Her half-brother Derrell Goins, 21, an art student with no crew affiliation, was shot to death in December 2008, a mistaken target in a dispute between rival gangs, according to police.

McRea's brother Joseph McRea, 22, has been in jail since July, charged with shooting a man to death.

"And you had two other kids from 17th and Euclid who were arrested for the homicide at H.D. Cooke," said Weaver, referring to the fatal shooting outside an elementary school a few years ago. "And the little kid who got shot in the front of the store," Weaver said. His face grew puzzled as he racked his brain for the youngster's name.

Staff writer Keith L. Alexander contributed to this report.

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