It was 11:10 a.m. on Wednesday. Patrons of a laundromat spilled out in the cold air to watch the police.
Some recognized the victims from the neighborhood.
Mothers wandered aimlessly with young children in tow, unable to get into Ketcham Elementary School, on lockdown as police searched for a gunman in a light-colored vehicle with shattered windows.
For beleaguered residents, the scene seemed familiar.
"This is not the first time something like this has happened," said Sarana Garcia, 31, who recently moved out of Fairlawn to escape the violence but returned on Wednesday to wash her clothes. "It's the middle of the day. . . . These bullets could fly anywhere."
Within an hour of the shooting on Wednesday, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and Police Chief Peter Newsham found themselves addressing reporters at two different crime scenes blocks apart, offering distinctive narratives of the shootings but repeating the same sentiments about how violence will not be tolerated and issuing the same pleas for people to help detectives make an arrest. They do not believe the shootings are related.
Council member Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8) implored that "when we stay silent about this in our community, it's going to happen again and again and again." About 40 percent of killings in the city last year occurred in his district.
He turned an adage on its head with a pessimistic prophesy: "Bad things happen, and good people do nothing."
The officials first addressed reporters about 11 a.m. at Garden Memorial Presbyterian Church, in the 1700 block of Minnesota Avenue SE, where the teenager, Steven Slaughter, was shot Sunday evening as he walked home from a convenience store with two friends. The marquee reads, "Bread of Life."
The friends scattered, and Steven was struck several times and collapsed around the corner from the church. He died at a hospital.
Steven was a ninth-grader at Friendship Collegiate Academy, dreamed of playing college football and was known for his stylish dress. He was shot a block from his house.
Bowser and Newsham returned to the church on Wednesday to talk about the victim and plead for help finding his killers.
"Frankly, we haven't got the information we need to close this case," the police chief said.
Officers and detectives passed out fliers with Steven's picture and a $25,000 reward. Steven and two 17-year-olds are among the District's five homicide victims this year.
Newsham discounted the use of an automatic weapon, raised by residents, and said it does not appear likely that Steven's killing is related to other shootings in the area.
He said detectives can no longer say if Steven was targeted, though authorities had earlier described him as a likely bystander. Newsham said there are conflicting accounts of how the shooting occurred.
"I share the outrage of many Washingtonians," Bowser said, "for thinking about the future of this young boy that will never be realized. She said she is "even more saddened that it is likely that another young person was at the other end of this gun."
As officials spoke, police reported a shooting in front of King Convenience Store, one-third of a mile away in the 2000 block of 16th Street SE, just off Good Hope Road.
Police said a woman and two men had been shot and were taken to hospitals.
A fourth man, grazed by a bullet, made his way to an emergency room on his own.
The shop's glass door had been shot out.
"A brazen disregard for public safety," Newsham said at the latest shooting. "They opened fire in the middle of the day on a street where people were just visiting a grocery store. It's unacceptable."
In the laundromat's parking lot, several people thought they might know the female victim and were rushing to the hospital. Garcia described the bedlam following the gunfire.
White, the council member and former community activist, repeated his plea for more jobs, more recreation centers, more opportunities.
Otherwise, he warned, shootings are going to happen "over and over and over again."