A Northwest Washington teen-ager was fatally stabbed early yesterday as he left a crowded go-go music club on Georgia Avenue.
District police said 17-year-old Wendell Heard, who lived on the 1600 block of 17th Street NW, was stabbed once in the chest shortly after 2 a.m. Police said Heard was taken by ambulance to Washington Hospital Center, where he died about 3:15 a.m.
Police said they had no suspect or motive in the slaying but said Heard apparently was involved in a fight outside Celebrity Hall, a former car garage in the 3400 block of Georgia Avenue NW to which hundreds of District youths flock each weekend to hear go-go, a pulsating blend of rap and funk music as popular as it is controversial.
The stabbing, the latest in a series of violent incidents this year that some attribute to go-go music halls, has further outraged city officials and residents who live near Celebrity Hall. They contend that the city should close the club because it creates a dangerous public nuisance.
D.C. Council member Frank Smith Jr. (D-Ward 1) said last night that he plans to meet with Mayor Marion Barry early this week to discuss ways to end violence outside go-go clubs. Smith, the sponsor of a bill now before the council that proposes earlier closing hours for go-gos, urged parents not to allow their children to attend such clubs until the threat of violence can be stopped.
"This situation has gotten out of hand," Smith said. "We need to end all the needless tragedies around these places. They can say these types of places are peaceful inside, but the fact is violence seems to follow them."
City investigators, citing repeated incidents of trouble outside Celebrity Hall, previously have tried to revoke the club's operating permit. But the property owner, Andrew Richeson, appealed to the city Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and was allowed to keep the club open. Richeson could not be reached for comment yesterday.
"This kind of thing has happened before, and it will surely happen again if that place isn't shut down for good," said Marie Murphy, a member of Citizens for a Better Neighborhood, a group trying to have Celebrity Hall closed. "Everyone is very angry."
Murphy and other nearby residents charge that the hall's teen-age crowds have brought noise, drugs and violence to their streets.
The crowds exuberantly spill out onto the streets after a go-go performance, residents said, and they loiter in the neighborhood for hours, with some youths selling drugs, racing cars, damaging property and picking fights.
"I'm not surprised at all somebody died out there," said Elsie Gibson, who lives across the street from the dance hall. "I expected it, actually. There's been stabbings and shootings before. Kids are always being hurt. It's pathetic."
Fourth District police said they have arrested three youths outside the hall for rowdiness in recent weeks. When an event is scheduled there, police said, at least seven officers are assigned to the area.
"We have to watch it until it closes," one officer said. "There are always petty fights."
Formerly called the Black Hole, Celebrity Hall was opened in the summer of 1985. It had been a subject of repeated neighborhood protests, which increased this year after reports of stabbings and shootings, none of them fatal. Such incidents also have occurred at or near other District go-go halls.
In April, 11 people were shot outside the Acacia Masonic Temple in Northwest as go-go patrons left a dance there. One month later, four youths were shot outside the Panorama Room in Anacostia as they were leaving the dance hall.