She'kita McCallister, the sister of Antonio McCallister, a 23-year-old killed in Woodland Terrace, a public housing complex in Southeast Washington, holds a vigil for him in late July. (Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post)

They came to 2743 Langston Place in the District to mourn a brother, a godchild and a friend. Community members gathered late last week at a makeshift memorial on the spot where 23-year-old Antonio McCallister had been fatally shot in the troubled Woodland Terrace complex.

A suspect in the case later surrendered to D.C. police. The arrest affidavit unsealed Tuesday offered a telling detail about the violence in this Southeast Washington community: The accused assailant lived 10 doors from the shooting.

After McAllister fell to the ground, witnesses told police, the suspected gunman simply ran home. But it would take two weeks before a witness came forward, police said. A second witness at first lied about what he saw, police said in court papers, because he said he was plotting revenge.

A visit in early August revealed a tightknit community torn by violence, in which four people have been killed this year.

McCallister’s July 24 death and another homicide four days later that claimed the life of Melvin Williams, 31, in a nearby courtyard, prompted D.C. police to take extraordinary action. They flooded the complex of 600 residents with round-the-clock protection — officers standing guard on every street and hidden cul-de-sac.

A look at one of D.C.'s deadliest communities

Those who were interviewed refused to talk about any reason behind the bloodshed — part of a 28 percent increase in homicides across the District that has leaders worried. Many who live in Woodland Terrace — and police — suspect an internal battle among residents and others who live in adjacent apartment buildings rather than a deadly feud between rival gangs or over drugs.

Housing Authority officials blamed the violence on outsiders who routinely commit crimes and victimize the people who live there. They say many of the suspects and victims are not on official leases. But many once lived in Woodland Terrace, or still claim to. Police list home addresses for two of the four victims as Woodland Terrace. And two suspects arrested in two of the killings also claim to live in the complex, according to D.C.
police.

That includes the man arrested in the shooting of McCallister — Eric McDuffie, 23, who is charged with first-degree murder. The arrest affidavit filed in D.C. Superior Court provides details of the shooting, but offers no motive.

Russell J. Hairston, the attorney for McDuffie, did not return calls seeking comment on Wednesday.

It says McCallister and his friends were on Langston Place drinking and smoking marijuana for several hours on the night of July 24, a Friday. A witness who told police he knew the suspect for 10 years said the gunman came up behind McCallister at about 10:30 p.m. and shot him two times in the back of the head, according to the affidavit.

That witness told detectives that the suspect — who he identified as McDuffie — then ran past him with the gun in his right hand and into the home on Langston Place where he lives with his mother.

Police said in the affidavit that a second witness had initially told detectives he didn’t know who shot McCallister. Later, after identifying the suspect, according to the affidavit, he told police he had lied because had “planned to get revenge.”

A longtime resident of Woodland Terrace had said in early August: “Justice in here is different than justice in the rest of society.”

McCallister’s 24-year-old sister, She’kita McCallister, organized the vigil last Friday. She had been visiting Washington from Atlanta, and she was apparently the only relative to show up at the site of the killing. She said she had no idea why her brother had been killed, and would only say that he got shot “when he had his back turned and wasn’t paying attention.”