An Aug. 1 Metro article incorrectly referred to Jose M. Fernandez as a Hyattsville man killed in Hyattsville. Fernandez lived in Riverdale Park and was killed on Quincy Street near Bladensburg. (Published 8/6/2005)
Rhonda Short returned home late Saturday night to her Hyattsville apartment community to find flashing police lights, crime-scene tape and a dead body visible on the steps of her red-brick building.
The victim was one of two men shot to death at the Edmonton Apartments in the 5300 block of Quincy Street, bringing the total number of slayings in Prince George's County this year to 100.
The shootings also may become a turning point for Short and several of her neighbors on Quincy Street: the event that finally drove them from their community. Some residents said yesterday that they are more determined than ever to move out of a neighborhood beset with drugs and violence, most of it because of outsiders.
"We hear gunshots all the time," said Short, 36, an administrative assistant at a health care company. "The sad part about this neighborhood is there are beautiful children around here. I don't want to come home one day and find my kids laying on the block."
Police identified one of the dead as Jose M. Fernandez, 31, of the 2000 block of Rittenhouse Street in Hyattsville. He was found suffering from multiple gunshot wounds when police arrived shortly after 11 p.m. Saturday. A second, unidentified victim died a few hours later yesterday at Prince George's Hospital Center, police said.
Cpl. Kim Brown said police were canvassing the area yesterday but could provide no information about suspects or a motive.
The slayings come as Prince George's continues to grapple with a soaring crime rate. The county's homicide total is more than 25 percent higher than at this time last year. Robberies have more than doubled, and carjackings have increased 45 percent.
Police Chief Melvin C. High and his rank-and-file officers publicly clashed last week over the county's escalating violence, with the police union saying the chief's crime-fighting plan has failed and High responding that his department's largest problem is unproductive officers.
Residents of the Edmonton Apartments said yesterday that one of their biggest complaints is a lack of police visibility.
"We only see the police when something happens, and that's no good," said Harvey Phillips, 51, who has lived in the neighborhood for nearly a decade. "I'm thinking about moving, too. It's overdue."
Phillips said people from outside the neighborhood often zoom down the complex's residential street, where several children were out playing yesterday afternoon, at speeds approaching 60 mph. Phillips, a professional driver, said he slept through Saturday night's slayings and learned about them from the $25,000 reward fliers that police placed under windshield wipers.
Short, who has two children, said most kids in the neighborhood play together and attend the same Sunday school. She predicted that the community would see an increased police presence "for about a month."
Brown, the police department spokeswoman, declined to comment yesterday on residents' complaints about police visibility.
Robert Matters, 30, who works part-time at a McDonald's and at a nursing home, said he was "fed up" after the weekend's violence and was definitely going to move. He said he had no idea who was involved in the shootings.
"People just come around here and do whatever they want because they think they can get away with it and no one will care," Matters said. "Actually, they're wrong. People do care."