A 63-year-old lawyer who was active in volunteer efforts to help the poor and homeless was shot to death in the driveway of his home in the Chevy Chase area of Northwest Washington Saturday night after returning from the theater with his wife and mother-in-law.
Police said they are investigating the possibility that the victim, John Winston, may have been killed by someone trying to rob him. A relative said that a few minutes before arriving at his home on Chevy Chase Circle NW, Winston had given the last dollar he was carrying to a street person outside a nearby store.
Friends said the shooting occurred about 11 p.m. just after Winston, his wife, Jeannie, and his mother-in-law, Jeannie O'Neil, had returned from a production of "The Woman in Black" at the Olney Theater.
A spokeswoman for the family said the women had already entered their three-story brick town house when they heard noises outside. They went back and found Winston in the driveway, shot in the head and chest.
Relatives said Winston was involved in collecting food and money for the homeless. In addition to working through his church, Blessed Sacrament, he was involved with other groups and spent time serving holiday meals to the poor and displaced, they said.
Just before arriving home Saturday night, one relative said, Winston stopped to pick up a newspaper at a nearby convenience store.
Although his wife cautioned him against leaving himself with an empty wallet, the relative said, "He gave his last folding dollar to a homeless person . . . on the corner." The relative said Winston assured his wife he could get money from a bank's automated-teller machine in the morning.
The slaying was one of eight in the Washington region from Friday night through early this morning.
In the most recent, a man was shot and killed in the 1200 block of Lamont Street NW about 12:15 this morning in what police said was a robbery.
Officers said the unidentified man was walking home from work with a friend when at least two men got out of a car and demanded their money. One of the men was beaten and the other was shot in the head and killed, police said.
Earlier yesterday, an unidentified man was found shot in the hallway of an apartment building in the 1600 block of E Street NE. He was taken to D.C. General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The other killings occurred in separate incidents in the District and District Heights on Friday night and Saturday.
As news of Winston's death spread yesterday through the Chevy Chase neighborhood, a quiet, upper-middle-class area, its residents expressed shock. Some described the neighborhood as the kind of place where people look out for each other's homes and are not afraid to walk their dogs at night.
"We do have a false sense of security," said Liz Melcher, whose husband is a priest at All Saints' Episcopal Church, across the street from the Winstons' house.
"It is a city/suburban-type neighborhood," added Allen Beach, an advisory neighborhood commissioner in the area. "In terms of crime, we just don't have a lot."
Police in Montgomery County's Chevy Chase Village, across the street from where Winston was slain, said there have been several armed robberies and break-ins in the neighborhood in the last few weeks, including a robbery a week ago at nearby Oliver and Montgomery streets.
Standing near his patrol car near Chevy Chase Circle, Officer A.J. Ortiz offered advice on how to avoid being victimized. "Travel in pairs," he said. "Stay out of those dark areas. Don't be vulnerable."
At Blessed Sacrament yesterday, priests mourned the loss of a devoted parishioner.
Winston "was always here," the Rev. Percy D'Silve said as he bade farewell to churchgoers after the 1 p.m. Mass. "He was known to everybody . . . . It's hard for us to picture that he is no more."
Friends described Winston as a longtime resident of the area, the father of three grown daughters and a son and a grandfather of two.
Winston, the general counsel of the National Automobile Dealers Association of McLean, was scheduled to leave yesterday on a business trip.
Winston was active in the local chapter of the Serra Club, an international organization of laypeople who seek to encourage people to enter religious life.
"He would give anybody anything," said William H. Graham, chairman of the drama department at Catholic University, who had been with Winston at the theater. "He was one of the most perfect Christians I've ever known." Washington Post staff writer Martin Weil contributed to this report.