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Shooting of teen girl in Southeast likely accidental, police say

A spokesman said the shooting appeared to be “unintentional."

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A 16-year-old girl who was fatally shot Sunday inside a Southeast Washington apartment seems to have been killed after a gun accidentally went off as she and other youths were producing a video for social media, law enforcement officials said.

Officers found Taniya Jones, 16, of Brandywine unconscious and unresponsive inside of an apartment in the 4400 block of Third Street SE about 6 p.m. Sunday. Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said the investigation is ongoing and it was too early to determine if any charges would be filed, but added: “Preliminarily it appears the shooting was unintentional.”

A gun accidentally went off and the teen was hit in the face as she and the other youths were producing a video for social media, according to two law enforcement officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release early findings in the investigation.

The 16-year-old’s mother was grieving at her D.C. home with visitors and a pastor on Monday, and declined to speak with a reporter.

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Absalom Jordan, who serves on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, said that police officials told him that the shooting appeared to be unintentional among a group of teens.

“I heard it was an accident. They were handling a firearm and it went off,” Jordan said in a telephone interview. “My heart goes out to the family.”

Guns are so accessible in some communities, Jordan said, that city officials should consider a robust public safety communications strategy to inform residents on how to more safely handle firearms, and to guide youths on what to do when they encounter them.

“Anybody and everybody is getting them; it seems like young people have more firearms than video games,” Jordan said. “Part of our problem with proliferation of firearms is people who have them don’t understand how dangerous they are.”

The girl is one of four teens who have died by gun violence — including three police believe to be criminal homicides — in D.C. since June 13.

Peter Hermann contributed to this report.