Sanitation employee slain near D.C. facility

By Paul Duggan
Thursday, October 14, 2010

A longtime D.C. sanitation worker was killed Wednesday morning and a fellow employee was wounded when a man fired shots outside a Department of Public Works facility as trash collectors were preparing to start their rounds, police said.

The slain worker, Larry Hutchins, 51, of Suitland, was standing with other employees in the trash-truck lot of the facility, at 1241 W St. NE, when the assailant walked into the lot about 6:15 a.m. and fired almost two dozen shots, officers said.

A second sanitation worker, a man in his mid-50s, was wounded. He was hospitalized in good condition, officers said. They did not identify him.

Officers declined to say whether they had determined a motive for the attack.

The gunman was wearing a uniform of some kind, Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier told reporters, citing witness accounts. It was not clear whether he was in a public works uniform or whether he was a department employee or former employee. He fled the scene.

"Whether this is workplace violence or some other type of attack . . . DPW is part of our Metropolitan Police Department family, and we're going to work around the clock to bring the person responsible to justice," Lanier said at a news briefing.

Hutchins, who lived with his wife in the 3400 block of Pearl Drive, was a 24-year public works employee, the agency said. The labor union that represents D.C. sanitation workers said Hutchins was a $21-an-hour "sanitation technician," meaning he rode on the back of trash trucks with a second worker, while a third worker drove.

"As you can imagine, we are all stunned and saddened by the shooting," said DPW Director William O. Howland Jr. "Our prayers go out to both of the families and the second employee who is still hospitalized."

The wounded employee has worked for the department since 1991, city records show.

Public works officials canceled trash collection for the day and made grief counselors available to employees. The shooting occurred just after workers had reported to the lot and were getting ready to begin the day's pickups, police said.

"All the shootings that can occur in a big city like Washington, D.C., are troubling, of course," said Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D). "But very rarely do you come before the public to talk about a government employee who has been shot and killed while actually on a government site and while actually doing government work."

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