The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A teen is killed, as D.C. again grapples with young victims of violence

Those who knew 14-year-old Antoine Manning described him as a jokester with a magnetic personality. His death reverberated in D.C.’s youth football community.

Antoine Junior Manning. (Family photo)

Antoine Junior Manning liked dancing to the latest TikTok trend, pranking his teammates and having sleepovers with his friends. He was also a 14-year-old ladies man, said his dad, with the sort of charisma that drew people in. He wanted to be a football player in the NFL when he grew up.

He survived a shooting last month, his dad said. But then he was shot again on Monday night. He died at a nearby hospital, with his family and youth football teammates left to mourn over what in recent weeks has felt like a frighteningly frequent occurrence in the nation’s capital.

“He was a good person. He had a good heart,” said Antoine Brown, Antoine’s father, through tears. “And they took my son away from me. Oh God, I’m never going to see my son again.”

In the last two weeks alone, at least four teenagers or children have been shot in D.C. A 15-year-old was shot aboard a Metro train. A 4-year-old was wounded by a bullet not meant for him. Another 15-year-old was killed on a porch, with the popping of gunfire sending kids at a nearby bus stop sprinting away. Backpacks bounced on their backs as they screamed and cried.

Antoine was in ninth grade at Digital Pioneers Academy, according to the charter board. He was killed in the 2600 block of Birney Place SE, the same block where he was shot and wounded on Oct. 9. Brown said he did not know his son had been shot in the prior incident until after he was killed.

Police said the Monday night attack was likely targeted. By Tuesday, there was no information available on motive or suspects.

Brown said he and his son liked to play pranks on each other. One time, Brown put hot sauce on young Antoine’s mouth and toothpaste on his hands while he was asleep, so he would smear the paste all over his face when he tasted the sauce. As payback, Antoine gave his dad a cup of toilet water with ice cubes in it.

“I swear, it was the funniest thing,” Brown said. “It was so wrong but so funny.”

Most of the time, Antoine still seemed like a kid to his dad. But there were more and more signs that he was starting to grow up. The teen had a way with girls. “He was a ladies man, like his father,” Brown said. And he grew self-conscious when his dad tagged along on outings with his friends. “C’mon, Dad, you’re embarrassing me,” his dad recalled he would say.

Brown said he sensed that his son was starting to “gravitate toward the wrong things,” and often warned him not to make the same mistakes that he had as a teenager. Brown said the last time he saw his son was in May of 2021, when the two went to Crusty Crab for his birthday dinner. He said he moved to New York a day later.

“I loved my son,” Brown said. “I did not leave for my son to die.”

Antoine’s death drew an outcry from city leaders, and has reverberated in particular through D.C.’s youth football community, where some young people have previously had to cope with gunfire and the deaths of their childhood friends, according to multiple parents and football coaches in D.C.

“14 years old and lost his life for absolutely nothing,” Ward 8 Council member Trayon White (D) wrote on Instagram. “Our children deserve to go outside and be kids.”

Antoine, known as “Twon,” played football for the Watkins Hornets Youth Association team called the “Clockboyz” for three years, according to team administrators and multiple parents of other players. Some of his teammates, who last played together in December before the team disbanded for high school, had previously played football or interacted at youth games with Peyton John “PJ” Evans and Davon McNeal — who were both killed by stray bullets in D.C.

Evans, who would have been 9 years old this year, was fatally shot while eating tacos at his cousin’s house last August. McNeal, who would have been 13, was killed on July 4, 2020, near an anti-violence cookout.

“When I talked to my son, he said he felt like it was PJ all over again,” said Clockboyz team administrator and parent Tony Barr. “How are they supposed to process this?”

A slain boy, his grieving teammates and a football coach’s rush to save them

Chauntyse Anderson, mother of a former Clockboyz player, said she had never seen her son as distraught as he was when he learned of Antoine’s death in a group chat last night.

“He was just slamming stuff,” Anderson said. “He didn't even have any words. Just tears. I couldn't do anything but hold him and sit here and cry with him.”

In 2021, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) declared Nov. 16 “Clockboyz Day” in honor of the team’s “amazing scholastic, talented, athletic, and civic-minded young Black men, boys, and coaches,” according to a certificate signed by the mayor.

The certificate mentioned that the team had won the American Youth Football Association’s annual tournament in Florida three years in a row.

One of those years, two team administrators said, Antoine scored the winning touchdown.

Lauren Lumpkin contributed to this report.