Andrew Anderson Jr. died at dusk in a pool of blood, his face pressed against the cold pavement in the courtyard of the threadbare Valley Green public housing project in Southeast Washington. Assailants had pumped 12 bullets--"two six-packs," as one resident called them--into Anderson's slender frame.
Nearly 100 adults and children had gathered around Anderson's body by the time a police investigator arrived on the scene that Friday evening, Feb. 12.
"It reminded me of one part of the movie 'The Ten Commandments,' when people were wailing and screaming over losing their first-born sons," the investigator said. "The crowd was very, very badly hurt. Everybody was just grieving. Children were hollering, 'Uncle Andrew is dead!' Men and women were falling and rolling on the ground, yelling and screaming, 'Oh no, Andrew, don't die . . . please.' It was real hurt that those people displayed."
There was little in this spectacle to suggest that Anderson, according to D.C. police, was a big-time Washington drug dealer, an occasionally quick-tempered man once accused of beating a former girlfriend with a baseball bat.
Many of the people in Valley Green knew about Andrew Anderson and drugs, but to some, that was simply the scarred side of a good coin. To them, he was charming and personable, a big-hearted philanthropist.
To many of those who mourned his passing, Anderson was a prosperous 31-year-old "businessman" who had escaped the narrow, clutching horizon of Valley Green. Anderson had only a seventh-grade education, yet he reputedly "employed" as many as 40 people in his drug operation. And he made enough money to move his family to the suburbs, to a red brick rambler on a hillside in Oxon Hill.
Anderson came back often to see old friends at Valley Green, where he had grown up. He would drive up in a sleek Cadillac, bringing with him a thick wad of bills from which he dispensed money to those in need. Last summer, he threw a barbecue for the youngsters in the neighborhood, with live music and food and drink for all.
Once a heroin addict and small-time robber, Anderson kicked his habit and went into business for himself, according to officials in the D.C. police department, the U.S. attorney's office and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.
They say that his drug organization sold heroin, dilaudid, preludin, cocaine and marijuana. Anderson took in between $2,000 and $3,000 a day, according to one law enforcement official. They portray him as a brutal man who would go to whatever lengths necessary to protect his empire. Yet none of these allegations ever were proved in court.
Some, and perhaps most, Valley Green residents shared the authorities' view.
"Andrew Anderson was a sore to this community," said Marion Wilson, 24, a lifelong resident of the housing project. "He was a dope pusher. And he's dead because he stepped on too many toes. A lot of people wanted to see him dead." Two men were arrested and charged in the shooting, which police suspect was drug-related.
Others saw Anderson differently.
"I know he used to sell the stuff. I've been knowing that for years," said James Lane, 45, who said he has lived in Valley Green for 17 years. "He kept money. Ain't no doubt about that. Good God Almighty, yes, he kept a bankroll. But whatever he could do for you, if you asked him, he would do it."
And 22-year-old Regina Paris, who described herself as a friend of Anderson, insisted: "Andrew was a sweet young man that everybody loved. He helped everybody. Anybody who needed help, he helped them. He was like the grace of God to some people, an answer to prayers."
Anderson was not a new phenomenon. During the 1940s, '50s and '60s, the late Roger (Whitetop) Simkins, a numbers banker, contributed generously to churches and charitable groups. Odessa Madre, the former queen of the Washington numbers racket, finessed and charmed her way to superstar status in the underworld.
"We've had the bootleggers and pimps and numbers runners who are good church-givers on Sunday, but practice their trade during the week," said Calvin W. Rolark, who lives less than a mile from Valley Green and is president of the Washington Highlands Civic Association. "Oftentimes, people have protected those persons because either the city, the private industry or charitable groups are not responding to their needs, whereas the criminal element is."
"It is poignantly clear to blacks in a deprived setting that it is a white man's world and that the odds are against them," said sociologist Harry Edwards of the University of California at Berkeley. "Any black in a visible position where he can be seen taking care of business in a community that is deprived of any kind of authority and economic standing, somebody who can come by and pass money around, people will look up to him."
Jerome Page, president of the Washington Urban League, said, "A welfare mother would go to a dude like Anderson and ask him for help because he is known for giving help and spreading his wealth throughout the community. He's offering more hope for her children to survive than does the government. Going to him might put her in great personal conflict, but she must survive."
Built in 1961, Valley Green is a desolate grouping of 35 boxy buildings atop a hill in the Washington Highlands neighborhood. The name is a painful irony to those who walk through its washed-out yards and walkways, those whose frequently tidy apartments often line hallways strewn with litter and pervaded with the stench of urine.
About 85 percent of the families in its 312 units are headed by women. Half of all families have no income other than welfare payments. The median income range was $5,000 to $6,000 in 1978. Eighty percent of the adults and teen-agers in Valley Green are unemployed. There are nearly 1,000 minors living in the dilapidated project, most of them are between 5 and 13 years old, according to city statistics.
Varney Street, called Pork Chop Hill because of its shape, is the main thoroughfare through the project. Impatient drug dealers waiting for drive-through customers often line the curbs.
Anderson grew up as a scrappy, enterprising youth who loved to play basketball and was known as a dangerous street fighter, according to 33-year-old Lavoz Abney, a childhood friend.
Abney, who is unemployed, recalls growing up with Anderson in a poor Anacostia neighborhood near the B&O railroad tracks. They attended Nichols Avenue Elementary and Douglass Junior High schools.
"We were real close. We used to walk along the railroad tracks looking for wood and coal so we could hustle up some money. We sold it to people in the community. Everybody had coal stoves then," Abney said.
"We used to hustle groceries, too. We cut grass and shoveled snow. He was always interested in making some money," Abney said. "And he always wanted to be on top of everything. He was the type of dude who, if you were in a jam, you could always depend on him."
The Andrew Anderson who later won respect in Valley Green was a slender, polite, soft-spoken man, say those who knew him. He usually wore jeans, jogging suits and terry-cloth baseball caps.
The Andrew Anderson that Detective Johnny Saint Valentine Brown knew was shrewd and polished. The two met in 1979 and often saw each other in the area of 11th and O streets NW, a popular open-air heroin market, recalled Brown, a narcotics specialist with the D.C. police department.
"He was your atypical street dude," said Brown. "He stood above the average street dude, yet he was among them. He was decent as far as communicating verbally. He didn't say a lot of 'dis' or 'dat.' He was very cordial and had a good speaking tone. He was always alert and on time with his comments.
"He carried himself like a proud stallion, and sometimes you'd wonder what the dude was doing there, because he had so much potential. He wasn't one of the drug-dealing regulars. The regulars, half of them look like they need a bath and a haircut and clean clothes. When it came to dressing in the latest street fashions, he had it down pat."
Brown recalled once asking Anderson why he continued to risk going to jail instead of becoming a professional.
Brown said that Anderson replied: " 'Well that jail thing ain't my bag. That ain't where it's at. I'd like to clean up my act. But, you know, it's hard to find a job. I got to support my family. I got a woman and children.' "
"That was usually his basic rap," said Brown. "He always screamed that he was going to clean up his act, but he never found a way out of 'the life.'
"The brothers with the good minds seem to go on the other side of the fence," said Brown. "They can't relate to the slow money, the headaches that come with trying to make it out here in the traditional way, working day-to-day for a paycheck. It takes too long to get out of poverty working 9 to 5, so they're pursuing the American Dream with a mean haste."
Anderson ran an impressive drug operation, according to the officials who tried unsuccessfully to shut him down. He sold high-powered drugs at low prices, undercutting many of his competitors, officials say. He sold on credit, and built a loyal clientele.
"He was a suspect several times, but a major drug case was never made against him because of inconclusive evidence," said Capt. Phillip O'Donnell. We worked on him, but we could never put a case against him. He was a shrewd businessman."
"He was just like a slippery hand; whatever he got into, he got out of it," said a source involved in one investigation of Anderson. "The main thing in the prosecution of drug cases is witnesses. How are you going to get somebody to testify against somebody like him? They're in fear for their lives, and understandably so."
In 1972, according to prison records, Anderson was convicted of robbery, simple assault and carrying a handgun without a license. He was sentenced to serve one to three years at Lorton.
In 1975, out on parole from those earlier offenses, he was arrested and later convicted of unlawful entry, making threats and again carrying a handgun without a license.
In April of last year, Anderson was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Police alleged, according to the arrest warrant, that Anderson was arguing with Trudy Sharon Lane, described in court proceedings as a former girlfriend, when he hit her with his fist and then a baseball bat, breaking her arm.
The case was dismissed last Dec. 3 "for want of prosecution." Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Alvin Stout III, prosecuting the case, said in court that witnesses would not obey subpoenas and Lane, who was receiving clothes and drugs from Anderson, would not testify against him.
Anderson's mother, Dorothy Dews, contends that Anderson, her oldest child, was not involved in drugs. She recalled many people coming to her at his funeral and telling of the money that Anderson had given them. "I didn't ask why he gave it to them. I wasn't interested," Dews said.
Regina Paris wore an elegant black dress with a bright floral print to the funeral. "He bought me this dress," she said, referring to Anderson. "That's why I wore it today. He bought it for me just out of friendship. I respected and admired Andrew. He was young at heart. He didn't seem like he had a problem in the world."
But another woman who knew Anderson well said he did have worries. "One time, he told me, 'I know a lot of people hate me and one day I'm going to go.'" she said. "He just didn't know when or how."