Mayor Marion Barry, saying he hoped to restore order to the lives of surviving victims of a fire and sniper incident two weeks ago in a Southeast Washington neighborhood, handed Jo Anne Jacobs a check for $4,423 in city funds yesterday to cover back mortgage payments on her fire-damaged home.
"Thank you, I feel just so much better," said Jacobs, who has lived in the house 17 years and had fallen behind on her payments. An insurance company will pay to restore the row house at 2106 Minnesota Ave. SE, where the incident occurred.
However, the life of Jacobs' neighbor, Aileen Chesney, did not appear to be in order.
Chesney, who is making plans to move out of the neighborhood, remained behind locked doors while the mayor stood on the porch next door announcing aid for Jacobs, the two men wounded in the incident and the owners of a water-damaged home at 2104 Minnesota Ave. SE.
"What was that all about?" said Chesney, a 30-year renter at 2108 Minnesota, after firefighters, police officers and Barry administration officials had gone. "What was the purpose?"
The purpose, Barry had told reporters, was to show his administration cares. The mayor said he wanted to pay special attention to the Anacostia neighborhood because there is "a perception that government is not as active east of the Anacostia River as it should be."
For Chesney, the activeness of government is not the problem. The fear of crime, heightened two weeks ago when police boarded an armored personnel carrier to stalk a shotgun-wielding sniper next door, is the problem.
"I am moving," she said, pointing to boxes of her belongings. "I hate to leave the neighbors. But I feel I have to get going and find a safer place."
There will be no leaving for Lawrence Coleman. The cabdriver stabbed in the barricade situation by sniper Reginald Coleman, who was not related to him, was back home recovering from his wounds yesterday.
Barry announced that the city would use funds from a crime victims program to pay medical expenses and lost wages for Lawrence Coleman and Robert G. Murriell, the second injured man, who remains in critical condition at D.C. General Hospital with shotgun wounds.
The six-hour standoff between police and Reginald Coleman, who was reportedly despondent over financial problems and disputes with neighbors, climaxed when he set fire to the house and police stormed inside firing automatic weapons and tear gas.
The results of an autopsy, released yesterday, concluded that Reginald Coleman died during the barricade of severe body burns and smoke inhalation. CAPTION: Picture, Mayor Barry presents check for $4,423 in city funds to Jo Anne Jacobs while D.C. Fire Chief Theodore Cokeman looks on. By Fred Sweets -- The Washington Post