A Southeast woman who was peeling potatoes and a slumbering Prince George's County woman apparently have become the latest victims of a man who spies on people in ground-floor apartments, then shoots them through windows or glass doors, police said yesterday.
D.C. and Prince George's County police assigned extra officers yesterday to patrol the neighborhoods south of Suitland Parkway where five other such shootings have occurred since Sept. 5, and they cautioned residents to lock and cover their windows.
In all seven shootings, a man has watched a woman alone or with a man in a ground-level apartment or office late at night or early in the morning through open blinds, windows or curtains, then shot someone inside. None of the shooting victims -- five women and two men -- has died, and the gunman has never entered any of the apartments, police said.
The shootings have occurred in an area roughly bounded on the north by Portland Street and Alabama Avenue SE, on the west by South Capitol Street and on the east and south by Southern Avenue, except for one attack early yesterday in Prince George's County, which occurred on Southview Drive just over the District line.
Police expressed surprise that a peeping Tom acted again after a highly publicized D.C. police news conference on Thursday detailed the first five apparently related shootings. Police said yesterday that the two attacks that occurred after the news conference could have been copycat crimes.
"It appears he's walking around finding ground-floor apartments where some female has left the blinds open and preying upon them," said Capt. William White III, spokesman for the District police.
Police are working on a psychological profile of the man, described as 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-8 with a medium-to-dark complexion. They have described the man as "very deranged."
Early today, police said, they questioned and released a man they stopped in Southeast Washington late last night after a woman in the 1800 block of Stanton Terrace reported spotting a possible peeping Tom. There was no indication of any connection between the man stopped by police and the seven shootings.
One police official said early this morning that he knew of three or four calls of possible peeping Toms during the night; he could not say if that was an unusual number, but he noted the extra police patrols.
About 10:30 p.m. Thursday, a 39-year-old woman was peeling potatoes in her apartment in the 3400 block of Fifth Street SE, police said. The sliding glass door to her patio and the drapes were open, and a man fired into the house, hitting the woman in the back of the head, they said. She was listed in stable condition in intensive care at Greater Southeast Community Hospital last night.
Less than than three hours later, in the 1400 block of Southview Drive, a 29-year-old woman was asleep in her one-bedroom apartment when she was awakened by a tapping sound on the small patio outside her living room, according to police.
The woman got out of bed, went into the living room and saw that a man was crouched on the patio. When she picked up the phone to call police, the prowler shot one round from a small-caliber handgun through the sliding glass patio door and curtains, police said.
The bullet grazed her chest, police said, but she did not require treatment.
In the Stanton Terrace area of Southeast, some residents spoke last night of their concerns. "This neighborhood is usually lively, but there's nobody out here now. They're scared of the fool," said Cim Henderson. "We're just keeping our shades down."
Agreed neighbor Christina Lewis, "When it got dark, everybody made a beeline for the house."
About 11:25 p.m. Oct. 21, D.C. Officer Kelli Williams was talking on the phone in her apartment in the 3300 block of 10th Place SE when a man shot through a window, grazing her head.
At 4:40 a.m. Sept. 5, a man and a woman in an apartment in the 3300 block of 22nd Street SE were shot by a prowler outside their window. Two days later, at 5:30 a.m, a man and a woman in an apartment in the 2000 block of Shipley Terrace SE heard a noise outside the bedroom window, and when the man went to investigate, he was shot.
Two similar shootings occurred on Sept. 18. At 12:10 a.m., a witness saw a man peer, then shoot, into a bedroom window in the 2800 block of Second Street SE. No one was injured in that incident.
But about a half-hour later, a woman working alone in a ground-floor office of a tourist home on Parkland Place SE saw a man peering through the open window. She screamed and the man shot her once in the arm, then fled.
Staff writers Keith Harriston and Gwen Ifill contributed to this report.