A teenager has been arrested in last week’s killing of a 15-year-old high school student who authorities said was shot by a masked assailant in what the D.C. police chief described as “one of those senseless disputes between two neighborhood groups.”
Malik Holston, 16, of Southeast Washington was charged as an adult with first-degree murder while armed. He could make an initial appearance in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday, when additional details of the shooting are expected to be made public.
Holston is charged in the killing of Gerald Watson, an Anacostia High School freshman. Police said two masked assailants chased Watson after school on Thursday and shot him inside an apartment building next to where he lived in the 2900 block of Knox Place SE.
Police are looking for a second person in the case. The chief said Holston is not a student at Anacostia. No other information about the young suspect was available Tuesday, and police said detectives had learned few details of the apparent motive other than an argument between two neighborhood groups.
A counselor at Anacostia High School described Watson as a student who helped classmates deal with personal issues. He also was active in recreational league football and basketball.
Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and Police Chief Peter Newsham on Tuesday announced the arrest of Holston and of a suspect in a separate shooting Nov. 26 that left 20-year-old Randall Jaquan Francis dead in front of a day-care center in the 1800 block of Benning Road NE.
Newsham said Malik Morris, 20, of Northeast Washington was arrested in Francis’s killing on Dec. 6 in Slippery Rock, Pa., a small town 50 miles north of Pittsburgh. He was extradited to the District on Tuesday and charged with first-degree murder while armed. He also could make a court appearance on Wednesday. He lives about half a mile from the victim.
The two killings were unrelated but came within a three-week span, and Bowser described both victims as promising young men. She noted that Francis had graduated from Eastern High School in 2016; he had wanted to be a photographer and a model.
Authorities did not describe a possible motive in Francis’s death. He was shot in a block where several other shootings and killings occurred this year, and he died on a sidewalk, his body covered with a white tarp as his mother sat on a nearby curb and cried. Police said he had been shot in the head and was targeted.
Bowser said that with the killings “we once again have family who are heartbroken and left to grieve.”
After Watson’s death, the mayor said, “We are left with a question about why a child who happened to be at school earlier that day was chased down and gunned down and his life cut short.” Bowser then said, “Randall also had a future ahead of him. At 20 years old, his life was just beginning.”
And once again, Bowser blamed the killings — now up to 157 in the District this year, compared with 109 at this time in 2017 — on interpersonal disputes and the availability of weapons. “We know the issue is rampant gun violence and an alarming disregard for human life,” she said.