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Two burglary suspects killed in shootout with D.C. police near Catholic University

By Theola Labbé-DeBose and Paul Duggan
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, February 15, 2011; 11:01 AM

A police shootout Sunday night near Catholic University that killed two suspects ended a harrowing 40-minute rampage in which gunmen burst into a home filled with students and then beat, robbed and threatened to kill them, authorities said.

Three assailants terrorized the victims while looting the rooms, then tried to flee, firing at officers who had surrounded the house in the 1000 block of Irving Street NE.

It's unclear how many shots were fired. But D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said there was "an exchange of gunfire" outside the home. One man, Akeem J. Cayo, 21, was killed at the scene. Another suspect, Davon Sealy, 19, died Monday at a hospital.

"There's still a lot of work to be done, a lot of evidence to be collected and a lot of things to be figured out," Lanier told reporters Monday afternoon outside police headquarters.

Lanier said the victims were "targeted."

"I feel comfortable saying that with the information we have, it does not appear to be a random crime," the chief said.

The surviving suspect, identified as Steffan Fields, 21, of Gaithersburg, told investigators that he went to the house in the Brookland section of Northeast Washington to get marijuana from the "weed man," according to a police affidavit filed in D.C. Superior Court.

Fields, who faces charges of assault on a police officer while armed and first-degree burglary while armed, was ordered held without bond. According to the affidavit, Fields said he had been to the house twice before: once for a party, and once to buy marijuana.

Six roommates living in the house and four of their guests were in the house about 10:30 p.m. when Fields, Cayo and Sealy burst into the house, clad in black with masks over their faces and wearing black gloves, court documents say.

Fields strode through the home, threatening to kill everyone inside and kicking several people as they lay on the ground. Some of the victims later identified him by his black boots.

Someone managed to call 911, and a dispatcher heard a male yelling in the background. The three men robbed everyone in the house. Then they went from room to room and stole various items, stuffing them into backpacks.

Police arrived and surrounded the house about 10:40 p.m., according to court documents. One officer looking through the back windows could see a suspect inside dressed in black and wearing a black mask.

The suspects were apparently aware of the police, and at one point an officer saw a suspect peer through the blinds of the front window.

About 11:10 p.m., the suspects made a run for it. All three men ran out the front door, but Cayo ran along Irving Street while Fields and Sealy tried to escape along the side of the house toward the back.

Cayo exchanged gunfire with police and died at the scene. Police found a silver semiautomatic pistol near his body. Sealy was shot several times at the back of the house and was taken to a hospital, where he died at 4:08 a.m. Fields was stopped outside the house and was arrested, and officers said they found a gun near him. Officers who searched the house found an assault rifle.

Catholic University officials said that six current and two former students were in the house at the time of the burglary. Campus officials learned about the shooting from D.C. police shortly after midnight and kept students abreast of the details through an e-mail alert sent at 2:38 a.m. and an update at 9:55 a.m.

"Officials from the Division of Student Life and the Office of Campus Ministry have been with the students and have offered them assistance and support," according to an alert from the campus office of public affairs.

The shootout was a topic of conversation among the Brookland neighborhood community e-mail group. One woman recalled walking her dog late Sunday and being frightened by a police helicopter shining a spotlight on the street.

The two-story detached red brick home is about five blocks south of the campus. Yellow police tape remained on the street Monday afternoon, along with a few officers.

About 1 p.m., a white Catholic University public safety van pulled into an alley behind the house. Eight students got out and went inside the home to collect their belongings. They did not speak to reporters. One man pulled the hood of his sweatshirt over his head, covering his face.

labbet@washpost.com dugganp@washpost.com

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