A District woman has been charged with shooting a man in a Columbia Heights breakfast restaurant this month during an altercation in which people siding with the woman shouted homophobic slurs at the victim and his acquaintances, according to authorities.
LaShawn Carson, 27, of 1300 block of Kenyon Street NW, was charged with aggravated assault in the March 11 shooting, which occurred shortly before 6:30 a.m. in the International House of Pancakes in the 3100 block of 14th Street NW, police said.
The victim survived with a bullet still lodged in his liver, according to a police affidavit filed in D.C. Superior Court.
The IHOP shooting and other recent crimes in the District with homophobic overtones prompted a March 20 public demonstration by about 600 people protesting anti-gay violence.
In announcing the arrest Monday, D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier declined to comment on whether authorities believe the shooting was a hate crime, saying prosecutors will make that determination. She also declined to discuss the victim’s sexual orientation.
Police in the District do not have the option of charging someone with a hate crime. But if prosecutors prove during a trial that a crime was motivated, for instance, by the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, it could result in an enhanced prison sentence.
Mayor Vincent C. Gray and other civilian city officials said at a news conference that the shooting was an apparent hate crime.
The incident was “one of a string of violent crimes that appear to have targeted — I underscore ‘appear’ — the District’s [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community,” Gray said.
“And these incidents have caused, obviously, all of us deep concern,” the mayor added. “While all crime obviously is horrific, crimes that target victims because of their ethnic background, sexual orientation, faith or other identifying characteristics are especially insidious and destructive to the fabric of community life.”
Police said Carson and a man with her became involved in an argument with the victim, who has not been publicly identified. The dispute escalated into fights involving the victim, Carson, her male friend and others who were companions of either Carson or the victim.
Witnesses said participants on the woman’s side of the dispute hurled anti-gay epithets during the altercation.
Moments before the shooting, the victim threw a glass at the man who was with Carson, then tried to punch the man but hit Carson instead, police said, citing a video recording of the incident.
Carson, who was arrested Saturday, appeared briefly in Superior Court and was ordered held without bail pending a preliminary hearing set for Thursday. She did not enter a plea.
Read more: The Post’s crime coverage