Bobby Larnell Parker Jr. was ambushed and gunned down in a contract killing Monday night by four men who surrounded Parker's car as he sat at a stoplight, Police Chief Maurice T. Turner Jr. said yesterday.
Parker, 23, apparently had stolen three kilograms of cocaine from a drug dealer. "They weren't going to let him walk," Turner said. "A substantial amount of money was paid. When people don't pay a narcotic bill, the dealer pays someone else to take him out."
Turner called the slaying on a crowded street "the most brazen and arrogant show of disregard for life we've seen -- disrespect and contempt for the community as a whole."
Parker, a drug dealer and a convicted burglar, was inside his car at Southern Avenue and Chesapeake Street SE at 7:10 p.m. when four men approached the car and shot him at least 10 times with semiautomatic and automatic weapons , police said.
Bits of yellow plastic police tape were still draped yesterday in front of the apartment building where Parker's car had been stopped. Residents along Chesapeake Street were reluctant to talk about the slaying, but the evidence of daily drug dealing and violence gripping the far Southeast neighborhood was everywhere.
"This is one hell of a drug area," said a police officer who steered his cruiser past rows of dilapidated and boarded-up buildings.
As he drove along the hilly streets of the Washington Highlands neighborhood, the officer pointed to a group of young boys in red jackets and sweatsuits who were selling drugs near Fourth and Livingston streets SE. Cruising slowly up Bellevue and Barnaby streets SE, "lookout men" -- one talking into a cellular telephone -- were seen leaning against the deteriorating brick buildings where drug dealers sell crack, a highly potent cocaine derivative.
Suddenly, the officer's police radio broke the silence. "Shooting at Stanton and Alabama." The detective slammed his foot down on the accelerator, and his siren began wailing.
In front of the tiny Parkland kiosk of the D.C. Public Library at Stanton Terrace and Alabama Avenue, a young woman lay bleeding on the sidewalk. She had been shot in the leg. It was shortly after 2 p.m. and a crowd gathered to watch the woman being lifted into the ambulance.
Several police officers jumped into their cruisers and chased a suspect a few blocks away to a two-story brick house in the 1800 block of Stanton Terrace. With their guns poised, they waited outside, crouching beside a cruiser and lining the outside wall of the house. A suspect escaped out of a second-story window. No arrests were made.
The woman, who was taken to Greater Southeast Community Hospital and admitted in stable condition, told police that she was shot in the midst of "an argument between friends."
Yesterday's shooting occurred a few miles away from where Parker was killed Monday night. On his bullet-ridden body, police found "a large amount of money," a gold initial ring and unused clear plastic bags, which they said are used to package drugs.
"I have never seen anyone shot 10 times -- never," said Detective David Israel, who works in the 7th Police District, where Parker was killed. "This place has gone to the dogs. It's just a matter of time before a cop gets killed out here."
Parker's slaying came a month after a D.C. Superior Court jury acquitted him and a longtime friend of murder and robbery charges in the December 1986 slaying of store owner Byung Soo Pak, who was shot to death in his Capitol Hill market in the 100 block of Eighth Street SE during a robbery attempt.
Upon learning of Parker's death, Linda Pak, daughter of the slain grocery store owner, said, "As a Christian, I feel sorry that a 23-year-old had to die. He was young and there was a lot he could have done. I was angry when the jury acquitted him, but I believe in the justice system."
Although Parker was acquitted in that incident, one law enforcement source said yesterday that Parker was known as a "stickup boy."
" "He went from quick robberies . . . to knocking off local drug dealers," the source said.
"He stuck up the local drug dealers," said a homicide detective. "He stole drugs and money. That's the kind of people he would hit because he'd know they wouldn't go to the police."
Laura Gayden, Parker's mother, said yesterday she did not believe her son had any connections to the drug world, though she acknowledged he had a police record and that she and her son had differed about how he should live his life.
"I felt as if my hands were tied," said a tearful Gayden, sitting in the living room of her Southeast apartment, two doors from where Parker was shot to death.
"You feel like there is no way out," she said of times when her son ran up against the law. "He would tell me he was grown and he had to live his life on his own. He said, 'I'm not going to do anything wrong.' But his outlook on wrong and mine are two different outlooks on life."
Gayden, a nurse's assistant at D.C. General Hospital, said her son dropped out of Bladensburg High School in the 11th grade and lost his last job just before last month's murder trial. "My daughter said she loaned him money and paid his rent for him last month," said Gayden.
"My daughter said the reason he was in the neighborhood the other night was to get money from her," said Gayden, who is divorced and has a 22-year-old daughter and a 20-year-old son.
Of the police, Gayden said, "They were polite, but it was still a joke to them. It was like they were saying, 'It's just another one who has died of drugs.' . . . They had his whole police record. They asked me about the murder trial. I told them my son didn't use drugs, he didn't smoke a cigarette or drink a beer and I know he didn't do drugs.
"My home is a Christian home," she said. "If Bobby was involved in drugs, I'm not aware of it. He left it outside. There's so much drugs in this neighborhood, though, I'm afraid to go out my home.
"Something needs to be done about the drugs coming into the black neighborhood . . . . It's a temptation for children," Gayden said.
Gayden said her son, whose birthday would have been Feb. 26, will be buried on Saturday. The next day, Gayden said, she'll start offering $1,000 to anyone with information leading to the arrest of her son's killers.Staff writers Victoria Churchville and Peter Pae contributed to this report.