A District man was arrested in the shooting death of a friend whose body was found last month in a burning trash bin in a Northeast alley, D.C. officials said Wednesday.
Zacchaeus Blanding, 19, of Northeast Washington was arrested Wednesday and charged with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Heineken McNeil, 19, also of Northeast Washington, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said at a news conference.
“This malicious and senseless murder has no place in our community,” Bowser said.
Although there was suspicion of gang-related activity, Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said at the news conference that the June 23 slaying had no connection to rival Northeast neighborhoods and that the two men were friends.
The “mistaken belief” that the slaying was linked to a dispute between a couple of neighborhoods led to a string of violent crimes after McNeil’s death, Lanier said.
“Initially, this homicide was believed to be the result of a neighborhood feud,” she said. “That belief sparked several days of other incidents of violence.”
She said that police and social services agencies were deployed to the neighborhoods to quell the violence and that “things settled down” in the past week. Although the investigation into McNeil’s death is ongoing, Lanier said, “at this point, this is the only arrest we anticipate.”
Police declined to identify where Blanding was arrested and did not comment on a possible motive in the slaying.
A message left for a lawyer who represented Blanding in a dismissed misdemeanor case this year was not returned Wednesday afternoon.
McNeil’s body was discovered about 5:40 a.m. June 23 in the burning trash bin in an alley off the 1200 block of Holbrook Terrace in the Trinidad neighborhood. The body was found by firefighters after they extinguished the fire.
At Wednesday’s news conference, Bowser said that violent crime in the District is up 1 percent compared with this time last year.
“We’re working diligently to squash it,” Bowser said, adding that D.C. police “have especially been working tirelessly to increase their presence in neighborhoods, and especially in the neighborhoods most affected by crime.”