Two boys, ages 7 and 8, and an adult chaperon were hit by stray bullets Monday when a gunman in Southeast Washington opened fire on another person, not realizing or not caring that about 30 children were on a nearby sidewalk, police said.
None of the wounds was considered life-threatening, police said. Detectives late Monday were still searching for the assailant, who might have squeezed off close to a dozen rounds, and for his intended victim, who was fleeing for his life when the bullets were fired and kept running after the shooting stopped, police said.
The incident occurred shortly before 12:30 p.m. at Savannah and 19th streets SE, a corner surrounded by about 100 acres of boxy brick apartment buildings and townhouses. The homes are in the Villages of Parklands development, a complex for low- and moderate-income residents. Police said the children in the line of fire live in the complex.
The 7-year-old victim, wounded in his right upper back, was the most seriously hurt, police said. They said the 8-year-old boy was hit in his right ankle. The adult, described as a man in his early 40s, suffered a wound to his left thigh. D.C. police, who routinely withhold the names of crime victims and witnesses, declined to identify the man.
Police Cmdr. Joel Maupin said the youngsters were taking part in an informal summer-activities program sponsored by the management company that runs the Villages of Parklands. The adult victim, a management employee, was escorting the children to a building in the complex where they could use computers after they had been treated to a meal elsewhere in the development, Maupin said. The chaperon and the children were walking east along one of the Savannah Street sidewalks, just past 19th Street, when the shooting started.
Maupin said the gunman was standing on a grassy hill about 75 yards north of the intersection. The intended victim was running away from the shooter, in the direction of the children. As the gunman pulled the trigger, the youngsters, about 5 to 12 years old, were walking several yards behind his moving target, Maupin said.
“And the subject ended up striking the children, unfortunately,” Maupin said, adding that police found no evidence that the intended victim was wounded. Investigators have only vague descriptions of the gunman and the person he was shooting at and do know whether they are adults or juveniles, Maupin said. Police declined to say whether they found shell casings on the grassy hill indicating the type of weapon used.
Despite his leg wound, the adult chaperon was able to move the children, including the wounded youngsters, to safety in a nearby building, where they waited for police and ambulances to arrive, Maupin said.