An 18-year-old Northwest Washington youth who lived a life on the streets was arrested early yesterday and charged with murder in the clubbing death Thursday night of his employer, the proprietor of a popular Capitol Hill delicatessen.
Police identified the teen-ager as William A. Jackson, of 1151 New Jersey Ave. NW. DC Superior Court Judge Peter H. Wolf ordered that Jackson be held on a $35,000 bond in connection with the slaying of Charles Solomon, the 64-year-old owner of the Delly of Capitol Hill at 332 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, and an unrelated May 4 burglary with which Jackson is also charged.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Jones told Wolf that Jackson, a busboy at Solomon's deli for the last two weeks, gave a written statement to police about the killing. The prosecutor said Jackson had a juvenile criminal record and that he had been previously held at Oak Hill, a city-run juvenile facility in Laurel. But Jones said that Jackson recently had been living with relatives.
Charles Solomon's friends and admirers yesterday described the delicatessen owner as a man who regularly made the rounds of the little shops and restaurants near his own, offering the same kind of good-natured cheer that his wife "Cookie" ladled out as she operated the deli's cash register. When he walked, the heavy-set Solomon, who was about 5 foot 9, with "pure white hair," would sort of sway from side to side, waving to friends as they passed by.
Reaction to his death was swift and sad, heard in the passing comments and seen in the downcast, shaking heads of casual shoppers, restaurant owners and Capitol Hill residents yesterday in the commercial strip along Pennsylvania Avenue SE, just east of the Capitol and the Library of Congress.
"People were outside his deli all morning, saying how sorry they were that this happened to him," said Rudy Manili, manager of the Great Shakes Ice Cream Parlor next to the deli.
Geoffrey Young, manager of the Hawk 'n' Dove restaurant across Pennsylvania Avenue from Solomon's deli, said that Solomon's death focuses on what residents and some business leaders see as a growing crime problem in the area. Just last week, Young said, Mayor Marion Barry and Assistant Police Chief Maurice T. Turner attended town meetings about crime in the neighborhood, but the mayor nonetheless said the city would soon be closing a police substation at 5th and D streets SE because of the city's budget problems.
Jackson, the man accused of Solomon's killing, slept on a dirty mattress in the living room of a decrepit one-bedroom apartment he shared with three adults and a 5-month-old nephew, Jackson's uncle, James Folsom, said Jackson spent the few hours before his 2 a.m. arrest sprawled on his mattress looking at television that was connected to an extension cord plugged into an outlet in the building's hallway, because their apartment only has electricity in some rooms.
Folsom, who said he was recently released from serving time at Lorton Reformatory on a burglary charge, said Jackson's mother was an alcoholic who died last October and that Jackson and his four brothers and sisters lived in foster homes when they were children. Folsom said Jackson's three brothers are in prison in Virginia and Maryland.
"He practically raised himself up, all Billy knows is hustling and street-life," Folsom said. "His friends are thugs. I've been worried about him for some time, I told him he had to straighten himself out, to get a job.
"This was his second week at work [at Solomon's deli]," said the 49-year-old Folsom. "I had hoped that he would listen to me, that it was better to get a job than hustle on the streets and get in trouble. I told him that Lorton was no place to be.
"But he didn't listen," Folsom said. "He told me once he wanted to be a track star. He said he wanted to go to college, but you know, he didn't know how to do it."