Antonio Juan-Mario Campos loved playing the Commando video game at the store across from his Northeast home. Yesterday, with his eyes locked on images of electronic violence, Campos apparently did not see a man walk into the store behind him, pointing a gun at his head.
From just a few feet away, in what police said may have been a drug-related execution, the gunman fired several shots, making Campos, 20, the District's third homicide victim in the first two days of February. His death brought the number of homicides to 40 this year, compared with 18 during the same time last year, D.C. police said.
Campos was playing a video game just inside the front door of the Montello Market when the shots rang out about 2:20 p.m. yesterday. Campos fell to the floor, gasping for air, said David Sheffey, owner of the store at 1400 Montello Ave. NE in the Trinidad neighborhood. Campos died shortly afterward, the victim of several gunshot wounds, including one in the head.
"I was sitting in the back of the store doing some bookwork and watching TV when I heard four or five gunshots and I ran out," said Sheffey. "Everyone in the store started hollering, and I saw the guy laying there."
Campos lived at 1405 Montello Ave. with his mother and grandmother. Their street in the Trinidad neighborhood of Northeast Washington, which is sandwiched between the Hechinger Mall and Gallaudet University, is "crawling with drug dealers," said his mother, Barbara Campos.
Police said they think Campos' death may be drug-related, but they are not certain. Barbara Campos said that her son did not use illicit drugs, although he "may have known people who were involved in drugs."
"He was a nice person," said Barbara Campos, a secretary at Georgetown University Hospital and Capitol Hill Hospital. "All the women liked him. You'd think he was Elvis Presley the way they chased after him."
Campos, who had attended Catholic schools in the neighborhood when he was younger, spent most of his time doing errands for his grandmother and helping her with two children that she was caring for, Barbara Campos said. His father, who is divorced from his mother, lives in the Dominican Republic.
"He was a nice guy, he was all right," said Michael Ruffin, an employee at the Montello Market. "And he really liked to play those video games. He played them every day."
Earlier yesterday, another 20-year-old man, Antonio K. Askew of 100 Ridge Rd. SE, died from a gunshot wound in what police describe as a drug-related homicide. He was one of three men who was shot repeatedly shortly after midnight in front of 776 Kenilworth Ave. NE, police said.
Police searched the area after a report of gunshot sounds, but were unable to find anyone. Askew and the two other men, who were suffering from gunshot wounds, showed up about 12:10 a.m. at D.C. General Hospital. Askew died about 45 minutes later.
Ramon Douglas Smith, 21, of 108 Ridge Rd. SE was treated and released, and James Alton McNeill, 16, of 204 37th St. SE was admitted to the hospital in good condition, a hospital spokesman said. Police said the case is under investigation.
Two hours earlier, Leroy Simms, 34, was shot several times in his home at 1101 Valley Ave. about 11 p.m. Monday during an argument with his son, police said. Simms' 17-year-old son, Leroy Simms Jr., was arrested and charged as an adult with second-degree murder while armed.
The argument stemmed from the father's alleged abuse of illicit drugs, police sources said. They said that the 17-year-old was upset that his father was allegedly wasting the family's money on drugs. Leroy Simms Jr. was arraigned in D.C. Superior Court yesterday and has been released to third-party custody, police said.
In Prince George's County, which also has been plagued by an surge in drug-related homicides, Clifton Sumner Dean, 21, of Upper Marlboro was charged early yesterday with first-degree murder in the slaying of a 17-year-old Temple Hills youth.
Lamont Willis of the 5000 block of Abbott Drive was shot to death about 8 p.m. Monday at Dean's home, at 12110 Hunterton St., police said.
Dean was held without bond. Police said Willis died in a fight that revolved around narcotics.
Staff writer Jeffrey Yorke contributed to this report.