District police said yesterday they have no suspects and few clues in the slaying of a Northwest Washington teen-ager who was stabbed early Sunday as he left a crowded dance hall on Georgia Avenue.
Wendell Heard, 17, who lived on the 1600 block of 17th Street SE, was stabbed once in the chest by an unidentified man, police said yesterday. The incident occurred shortly after 2 a.m. outside Celebrity Hall, a go-go music club at 3401 Georgia Ave. NW. Heard died at Washington Hospital Center an hour later.
"It seems like everybody outside that place just went instantly blind," a District homicide detective said yesterday. "Everyone says they didn't see or hear anything."
Although there have been other highly publicized shootings outside go-go clubs in the District this year, police said yesterday that they believe Heard was the first teen-ager to be killed while leaving a go-go concert.
The stabbing has outraged neighbors, who have fought to have the club closed since it was opened two years ago. In recent months, residents said, there have been other stabbings and shootings, as well as continual drug transactions, outside the hall. They charged that the club attracts unruly weekend crowds that make the area a dangerous public nuisance.
However, an attorney for the club's owner said closing the club would not stop the trouble in the neighborhood.
D.C. Council member Frank Smith Jr. (D-Ward 1) on Sunday urged parents to keep their children away from Celebrity Hall, and other District go-go clubs, because of Heard's murder.
Citing repeated incidents of trouble, the city's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs revoked the club's operating permit last year. Club owners appealed to the city's Board of Appeals and Review, however, and won the right to remain open.
"This trail of grief and suffering must be stopped," Smith said yesterday. "Even if that place would close even earlier, it would still be a magnet for trouble, and there would still be a basis for removing it."
Howard Ross, an attorney for Celebrity Hall owner Andrew Richeson, challenged Smith's views. He said yesterday that closing the dance hall is both unwise and unnecessary.
No connection has been made between the dance hall's Saturday night concert and Heard's stabbing, Ross said.
"I've heard those arguments before -- that this place is a magnet for disreputable types," he said. "But, fact is, it's very orderly inside. It's just a dance hall. And there have been plenty of those type of crimes in that neighborhood long before there was Celebrity Hall."