Four members of a drug gang in Northwest Washington were convicted in D.C. Superior Court yesterday of multiple shootings, including one that resulted in the highly publicized death of a Northwest mother of three hit by a stray bullet as she carried laundry bags into her home.
The 12-member jury deliberated for about a day and a half before convicting Brion X. Arrington, 25; Harrell E. Hagans, 23; Gary Leaks, 21; and Warren Allen, 21, of murder, attempted murder and other charges from activities in 1999 through 2000. Each could face life in prison.
All four men, members of the Delafield Mob, were convicted in the May 2000 Eva Hernandez murder and in the wounding of her neighbor.
Only Arrington, the gang leader, was charged and convicted in all the shootings in the indictment, which included two murders and three attempted murders. He still faces trial for other murders.
The verdict capped a two-month trial during which prosecutors alleged that the Delafield Mob -- named after one of the Northwest Washington streets the group worked -- set out to destroy a competitor, the Mahdi Brothers organization.
Prosecutors said that various members of the mob shot at 18 people, hitting nine, many of them associates or members of the Mahdi Brothers, which operated around 14th and Shepard streets in Northwest Washington.
"They raised havoc for the better part of two years; a lot of people were killed and hurt," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth B. Waxman. "We're happy for the families that they got some closure."
Henry Melara, 26, son of Eva Hernandez, 39, the woman who was shot when she was carrying her laundry home, praised authorities for the convictions. He said there was a void for him and his two brothers, 18 and 8. "My mother always [taught] us about God and don't hate anybody," he said. "I don't hate them. But they really messed up our life. . . . My mother was everything to us."
Arrington, in a dark suit and tie, stared at the jury with a look of resignation as the foreman read "guilty" on counts ranging from murder to carrying a pistol without a license. His attorneys declined to comment. He was convicted in the murders of Danny Webb, an associate of the Mahdi gang, and Hernandez and in the woundings of rival gang members and of Gloria Flores-Bonilla, 50, a neighbor of Hernandez's.
Hagans was convicted in the murders of Hernandez and Webb and the wounding of Flores-Bonilla. Leaks and Allen were convicted in the death of Hernandez and the shooting of Flores-Bonilla. Hagans's attorney, Veronice A. Holt, said she will appeal. Ferris Bond, an attorney for Leaks, and John Harvey, who represented Allen, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
The shooting of Hernandez on May 17, 2000, outraged the community. According to testimony, Arrington and fellow gang members plotted revenge for being shot at and drove up and down the 3900 block of 14th Street NW, Mahdi gang territory, opening fire as they went. Hernandez, returning from the laundromat with two sons, was struck in the neck.
Several days later, according to testimony, four members of the Mahdi organizations shot Arrington three times.
D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4) said yesterday that the "community is excited about having an arrest and conviction in the case."