Police have arrested a man suspected of firing a gun last week alongside Franklin Square Park during rush hour in the heart of downtown Washington and said it was over disputed drug territory.
No one was struck, and witnesses said it appeared as if the man was firing randomly as he walked along the 1300 block of K Street NW. Police said four shell casings were recovered from a sidewalk shortly after the 5:15 p.m. shooting Wednesday.
U.S. Park Police charged Kerwin Leon Bowman, 32, of Northwest with unlicensed possession of a firearm and ordered him detained until a preliminary hearing Nov. 2.
Police arrested Bowman on Friday but did not disclose it until Tuesday.
Park Police said in a statement that a man was seen fleeing the shooting scene in a blue sedan. But other witnesses described the vehicle to police and The Washington Post as black, saying it was a Chevrolet Impala with New Mexico license plates. Police said the car is owned by a friend of the gunman, who made his getaway as a passenger in the sedan. Authorities said investigators with the Park Police and with D.C. police recovered a gun that matched the weapon used in the shooting.
Police said in an arrest affidavit that the suspect, known as “Tank,” frequents the park and often shuttled between there and his home a few blocks away in the 1300 block of Seventh Street NW. The affidavit says that Bowman and another man were fighting in the northwest section of the park and that the dispute escalated.
The affidavit says the dispute involved drug territory, but the document did not specify whether alleged sales were being made in the park or where the suspect lives on Seventh Street, near the Kennedy Recreation Center, in Shaw.
The afternoon gunfire along a street and near a park that are typically crowded sent people running for shelter and drew a large police response. One witness said the man was holding the gun sideways as he fired.
Issam Philippe, who works for the Justice Department, said he was just a few feet from the shooter and could not see an apparent target. “He looked at me and then looked down and held the gun up,” the 40-year-old recalled. “He fired, but it appeared he was firing at random. It didn’t appear he was shooting at anybody. He was just trying to cause chaos.”