The wounded men were conscious and breathing at the scene about 8:20 p.m., said Officer Hugh Carew, a police spokesman.
Just weeks ago, a man was killed by stray gunfire in the same Logan Circle neighborhood on R Street, near 14th Street.
D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III said officers were on patrol nearby and responded within seconds of hearing the gunshots. He said that both victims were being treated at hospitals and that preliminary reports led police to believe one person was targeted and another was a bystander. Police said they were looking for a man who wore a lime green and yellow hooded sweater, who fled in an older black Honda Civic with D.C. license plates. Witnesses reported a chaotic scene.
Cliford Ortman watched as people inside a black sedan drove slowly past the Amazon Fresh tent before at least three guns fired at a group of young adults, he said.
Moments later, he said he saw two guns fire at the vehicle from behind a fence. The gunfire exchange lasted up to a minute before the black car drove away, he said.
Ortman, 36, screamed for everyone near him to “get in the store.” It was shortly after 8 p.m.
As the sound of gunfire echoed, people ran, tripped, screamed and cried, Ortman said.
He said he dragged his boss into the store to safety as other people scrambled for cover, and watched as a young woman in a dress was stuck in the intersection, running back and forth to avoid bullets while screaming and crying. Eventually, Ortman said, she fell into the ground and folded her body into a fetal position. He said he saw at least one person get shot.
“We’re lucky with all that gunfire that got engaged it was just two people who were hit. It was a lot of rounds,” Ortman said. “It sounded like we were in a war zone.”
Marc Geschwind, 25, who lives at 14th and T streets NW, was heading home from a work happy hour Thursday when he said he suddenly heard a “pop, pop, pop.”
Standing outside of the Chicken + Whiskey restaurant at the time, Geschwind — who has lived in the neighborhood for three years — was skeptical when his friend urged him to duck down beneath a barrier on the street.
“My friend said, ‘Hit the ground!’ I said, ‘No way, 14th street at 8 p.m.?’ It doesn’t make sense,” Geschwind said. “Everyone started freaking out on our side of the street, people eating outside started panicking, but we were still unsure of what was going on.”
But moments later, Geschwind said, he saw a man run south down 14th Street with his arm fully extended, firing a weapon, and a man who was standing near the street collapsed in agony moments later.
Geschwind and his friend stayed beneath the barrier until someone announced the shooter had fled the area, he said.
The District has been wrestling with a surge of violence, with 2020 ending with homicides at a 16-year high. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) this week wrote a letter to the D.C. Council that said residents tell her “they do not feel safe while the threat of gun violence looms,” and Contee over the past several days announced a new initiatives to send extra officers on bicycles and scooters into high-crime neighborhoods.
Bowser on Thursday night expressed anger at yet another shooting but echoed remarks by Contee that all city agencies and levers of the judicial system need to work on the gun violence problem.
“I’m outraged, the chief is outraged, and the community should be outraged,” Bowser said. “Our detectives are going to track down every lead . . . so we can get these individuals and hold them accountable.”
Bowser also continued to pledge that all city agencies would work to provide prevention services for those involved with illegal guns and urged family members to reach out before shots are fired.
“We need to get to them before they use their guns. It can destroy the lives of so many people when that gun is used indiscriminately on our streets,” Bowser said.
D.C. Council member Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2) said she was on the phone with a constituent who was “very upset” about crime in his neighborhood when she started seeing reports about gunshots on 14th Street.
“I let him finish his sentence and then I hung up,” said Pinto, who rushed to the scene Thursday night.
She described the level of crime in the city now as “unacceptable.”
“There was a lot of trauma for a lot of neighbors who were just out dining,” Pinto said.
After the shooting, a mother and daughter embraced and cried in the street. A woman tried and failed to get behind police tape to retrieve her parked car.
Another woman walked by and said, “Gun violence in D.C., it’s just out of control.”
By 9:30 p.m., it still smelled like gunpowder.
Emily Davies, Michael Brice-Saddler and Rachel Chason contributed to this report.