Early yesterday morning, Kevin Crowder peered into the green van with Virginia tags parked on his residential block near Howard University and discovered the city's latest heroin overdose victim.
The van had been parked in the same spot since Friday with the radio playing and a man slumped behind the wheel, Crowder said.
Homicide officals have identified the dead man as Richard Abdo, 24, of the 1500 block of Crane Street, Falls Church. The medical examiner's office determined yesterday that he had died of a heroin overdose.
Abdo is the first known heroin overdose victim since the nine overdose deaths that occurred in the Washington area between March 1 and March 4. Capt. James Nestor, head of the D.C. Narcotic Task Force, said that he doesn't believe this overdose death is related to the earlier ones.
"On Friday, I looked in the van and saw the man there," said Crowder, 30. "The van was still there on Saturday and Sunday. In my neighborhood, there are a lot of drugs and prostitutes, so its not unusual to see someone sitting in a car.
"Coming home Monday morning, I noticed the music was still playing so I took another look. He was in the same position, which made me believe that he might be dead. So I called the police."
Crowder, a lifelong resident of his row house in the 2300 block of Sherman Avenue NW, said he had just about given up calling the police to complain about heroin addicts using drugs in cars parked on his block.
Lt. James Dotson, head of the vice unit for the 3rd District, which includes Sherman Avenue, said police had been getting calls for drug use in that area for a year.
"That area is nothing compared to what else we have in the 3rd District," said Dotson. "There is a little selling there and some using, but I suppose that looks like a lot to the people who live there."
Crowder complained that he calls police when he sees addicts using his neighborhood as a hideaway to inject heroin, but that police are slow to arrive.
"We can't refute general complaints about the police not responding to a call," Dotson said. "They only way to do that is to know exactly when the call was placed and who took the complaint," said Dotson.
Crowder said that he sees needles strewn around a nearby parking lot and on the street. "I've got three kids, and the first one of my kids that gets hurt on a dope needle, I'd have to hurt somebody for that. All that is left for me to do is to buy a handgun."