A 16-year-old has been arrested in the killing last week of a man who had years earlier escaped the District’s violent streets through a work program and had become a construction engineer, D.C. police said on Thursday.
Lamont McDonald of Southeast has been charged as an adult with second-degree murder while armed, police said in a statement. He was arrested on a warrant on Wednesday.
The youth is charged with fatally shooting Malachi Yisrael, 43, on the night of July 5 in Northeast Washington’s Lincoln Heights neighborhood. A youth also was shot and critically injured in the same incident, though no charges have been filed in connection with that shooting.
Police have not described a possible motive, though additional details could emerge later on Thursday when the suspect makes his initial appearance in D.C. Superior Court and the warrant is made public. Yisrael was shot shortly before 10 p.m. in the 300 block of 50th Street NE, in a courtyard of a public housing complex in the neighborhood in which he had grown up.
In 2013, Yisrael entered a jobs program through the D.C. Department of Transportation that steered troubled individuals into jobs that were above entry-level. Yisrael trained as a construction engineer, learning how to test concrete to make sure it had been mixed correctly and take and test soil samples for building projects.
Yisrael was the commencement speaker for the program’s pilot class, and he was profiled in The Washington Post. He got a full-time job working on the 11th Street Bridge project over the Anacostia River, and then joined a company working on windmills in Iowa. He returned to the District in September and joined a small company that had a contract to build a walkway near the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.
“He was doing all the inspections,” said Sarat Saini, the company’s founder. “If you could say anything about him, it would be that he was a smart guy. He was really good at what he did.”
Yisrael had seemed to overcome a troubled past in which he dropped out of school in the fifth grade and shot a man when he was 13. In The Post’s profile, he described being involved in robberies, drug possession and selling heroin. He told The Post that he had “been a criminal most of my life” but “didn’t become a criminal because it was fun. I was poor. It’s not to justify it; it’s just that everybody was doing it.”
He had an extended family in the area and a nephew, Alonzo T. Washington, who is a Maryland state delegate from Prince George’s County. He had five children and five stepchildren, including a son who is heading into his junior year at Morgan State University in Baltimore, where he is a star defensive linebacker for the Bears football team.