By Paul Duggan
Thursday, March 17, 2011; 9:44 AM
Eight members of two gangs in Southeast Washington were arrested Wednesday in a months-long investigation of back-and-forth gun violence between rival street crews at the Benning Terrace public housing complex, authorities said.
The eight men were among 13 suspects indicted by a D.C. Superior Court grand jury Tuesday on numerous charges, including murder and assault with intent to kill, in a series of shootings at Benning Terrace since July 2009. Five of the men indicted already were in custody in the case, which involves two homicides.
Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said the suspects were arrested in early morning raids involving about 50 police officers and deputy U.S. marshals in the District and Prince George's counties. Officials described the indictment as a significant blow against crews whose feud has turned the complex into a veritable war zone.
The gangs "shared a tiny patch of real estate in Benning Terrace" and "engaged in urban warfare that turned deadly," U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. said in a statement.
One gang, the Avenue crew, has staked claim to turf west of 46th Street SE, authorities said, while the other, the Circle crew, claims the nearby 600 block of 46th Place SE, which is a cul-de-sac. Nine of the 13 defendants are members of the Avenue and four of the Circle, authorities said.
In one slaying, Curtis Faison, 19, an alleged Circle member, is accused of fatally shooting Melvin White, 27, on April 10. Around the same time, two other Circle members also fired shots at people associated with the Avenue, authorities said.
On May 14, three members of the Avenue retaliated by opening fire on members of the Circle, authorities said. They said that prompted three Circle members to open fire on people gathered on the Avenue's turf May 30.
Four members of the Avenue then went to the cul-de-sac and fired retaliatory shots, which sparked a gunfight, authorities said. They said six members of the Circle returned fire, killing 32-year-old Antwan Buckner.