The grainy surveillance video lasts 3 minutes and 12 seconds, showing dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles speeding along dark streets in Southeast Washington. The 12 speedsters are hard to make out, save but a white T-shirt here or there, faces blurred and washed out under the glow of street lamps.
Police believe that someone on one of the bikes shot Charnice Milton, a community journalist killed May 27, 2015, by a bullet detectives think was intended for someone else at a bus stop at Good Hope and Naylor roads in Southeast. Detectives have been looking for the people on the bikes ever since.
“We know there are people out there who can give us the last pieces,” D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said Thursday, returning to the spot where Milton was killed a day ahead of the first anniversary of her death. “We really need for them to come forward.”
Milton, 27, was returning home from reporting on a community meeting at Eastern Market when she was gunned down at 9:40 p.m. Her father, Kenneth McClenton, said the intended target used his daughter as a human shield to save himself.
The shooting came at the beginning of a summer in which homicides surged, and Milton was well known within her craft and by the people she covered for Capital Community News. She received a full scholarship to attend Ball State University and, in 2011, earned a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University.
Milton lived in Ward 7’s Benning Heights and chronicled communities that felt ignored. She had Asperger’s and a stutter, and she used journalism to overcome her inherent shyness — confronting public officials over spending habits or questioning Lanier about crime trends.
McClenton said he will be back on Good Hope Road on Friday to lead a vigil in his daughter’s memory. Police officers and detectives will also be there, handing out pamphlets and hoping for tips.
“It’s not enough that we come out here and hand out fliers,” McClenton said. “We have to end the tolerance we have in D.C. not just for violence but for murder.” He named other victims of gunfire and said, “We want satisfaction, satisfaction that can only come through justice.”
Lanier would not provide details of the investigation. The night Milton was killed, she spoke to the city with unusual bluntness and passion, expressing anger over the shooting. She had known Milton, and respected her work and her dedication.
“This young woman was everything that you wanted her to be,” Lanier said Thursday. “She loved her family. She loved her work. She loved her community. She spent all of her time trying to make things better. There is nobody who deserves justice more than Charnice Milton.”