Yesterday their mothers brought out their worn photographs. There was Rowland Ford, 15, in his red middle school graduation cap and gown. And there was skinny Doniell Smith, 14, smiling with his arms around his brothers and sisters.
Both boys were fatally shot Sunday night as they returned from a Halloween party hosted by their church at a skating rink. Four men wearing masks, scarves and bandannas and armed with 9mm handguns fired nearly 30 shots at a group standing at 19th and P streets SE, killing the two boys and wounding two.
The attack in Anacostia was one in a spate of shootings over the weekend that left four teenagers dead and three other people wounded. Police in two jurisdictions continued searching yesterday for motives and suspects, trying to determine why promising youths were caught in a spray of bullets.
"These are some pretty strait-laced kids," Rodney Monroe, commander of the 6th Police District, said of Ford and Smith. "They were about schoolwork, about their families and weren't involved in any negative activity in the community."
Ford was an honor student at Anacostia High School, enrolled in the school's pre-law program. He wanted to go to college, like his sister, Aronda.
At his home yesterday, his mother's voice shook as she held pictures of her son wearing a football uniform.
"He was a happy kid," Deborah Ford said through tears. "He wasn't a troubled youth."
A few blocks away, Tammy Jackson described her son, Doniell Smith, as a good student at Kramer Middle School. "He liked to play sports, a lot, and ride his bike," Jackson said. "He never bothered anybody."
Ford, of the 1500 block of 25th Street SE, and Smith, of the 2100 block of Fairlawn Avenue SE, and the two other teenagers were shot at 10:30 p.m. Sunday, police said.
One victim of the Sunday night shootings was found in the 1800 block of P Street SE; two others were found in the 1400 block of 18th Place SE. One of the wounded teens, who was shot in the groin, was in stable condition at Prince George's Hospital Center yesterday. The other teenager, who was grazed by a bullet to his back, made it home and was taken to the hospital by his parents, Monroe said.
Friends of Ford and Smith said that violence, though not rare in the leafy neighborhood, has never hit so close to home.
"They got killed for nothing," said Rufus Neal, a close friend of both teens. "I keep thinking I'm going to wake up and they are still going to be alive."
The shootings did not appear to be random, Monroe said, although he didn't know what the motive may have been. The hooded men "were chasing all of [the youths] down the street," he said.
The shootings late Sunday came about 24 hours after another teenager was shot dead about a block away, Monroe said. There were no indications that the shootings Saturday night and Sunday night were related, he said, but police were not ruling out the possibility.
Louis Queen, 18, of Northeast Washington, was fatally shot late Saturday near 18th and Q streets SE. A second male was shot in the lower extremities, but police wouldn't give further details because he is considered a witness.
Detectives were knocking on doors last night in an apartment complex in the 1800 block of P Street, searching for information about the slayings.
A neighborhood man who was standing in front of the complex said he had heard more than 20 shots Sunday night and saw one of the youths who had been shot lying in the 1400 block of 18th Place. He said that it's not unusual to hear gunshots in the area even during the day but that it is rare to see people shot.
Many elderly people live in nearby row houses, said the 29-year-old man, who would not give his name.
"There's a lot of elderly people that are terrified now," he said. "That this happened right in front of their homes."
Across the D.C. border in Prince George's County, another teenager, 16-year-old Steven Lawrence Sellman, of Temple Hills, was killed early Sunday in the 1700 block of Addison Road in Capitol Heights. Prince George's police said they do not know if Sellman was the intended target of a drive-by shooting or if he was an innocent bystander.
Police in Prince George's said they were looking for a dark, mid-sized car that was seen leaving the area after Sellman was shot. District police said they also are looking at the Sellman killing in an effort to determine whether the District shootings and his death are linked.
Staff writer Craig Whitlock contributed to this report.
CAPTION: District Shootings (This graphic was not available)
CAPTION: Rowland Ford, 15, was an honor student at Anacostia High School.
CAPTION: Doniell Smith, 14, attended Kramer Middle School and was an athlete.