A 22-year-old volunteer for a nonprofit social services agency in Washington died Wednesday night after being struck by an apparent stray bullet while sitting in his Jeep at a traffic light, according to police and the victim’s father.
Tom Marmet, an aspiring social worker, had recently volunteered for a year of service with the nonprofit So Others Might Eat, known as SOME, and was assigned to the agency’s job assistance center for recovering addicts and other needy clients.
Marmet had just left the center, in the 4400 block of Benning Road NE, and was driving home to dinner at about 6 p.m., to meet other SOME volunteers at the house they shared, when he was shot, according to his father, Roger Marmet.
Tom Marmet was the 135th homicide victim of the year in the District, far surpassing last year’s total of 116.
“You read about it, and you hear about it, all the gun violence,” said Roger Marmet, a restaurateur who owns Roofers Union restaurant in the Adams Morgan section of Northwest Washington. “But, I mean, you don’t ever think it’s going to come to you.”
Police said Thursday that they were still investigating the shooting, at 17th Street and Bladensburg Road NE, on the edge of the city’s Trinidad neighborhood and the National Arboretum. The intersection is about halfway along the five-mile route that Tom Marmet was taking from the job assistance center to the group dinner.
Authorities offered few details. But Roger Marmet said he was told by D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham and other officials that investigators believe his son was the unintended victim of an errant bullet. Police said the younger Marmet was pronounced dead at a hospital about 6:30 p.m.
Roger Marmet said his son, the younger of his and his wife’s two grown children, graduated in May from the University of Vermont with a degree in English. “He wanted to be either a teacher or a social worker for a long time,” his father said, and he decided on social work.
In August, Tom Marmet, who grew up in Chevy Chase, joined SOME’s year-long service program and was assigned to the job assistance center in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood in Upper Northeast.
“I grieve with Tom’s family and friends,” SOME’s president, the Rev. John Adams, a Catholic priest, said in a statement. “Our community has lost an extraordinary young man to gun violence, something all too prevalent in society.”
As one of four members of SOME’s service program this year, Marmet received monthly living and transportation stipends and free lodging at SOME’s Gandhi House in the Brookland neighborhood of Northeast. He was on his way to Gandhi House when he was killed.
“He was assigned to work in our addictions treatment program as a volunteer employment specialist, helping those who had completed residential treatment look for work,” Adams said. “Tom helped residents with their résumés, to identify job leads, and to practice for interviews. He also worked with our transitional housing staff and job training staff to address residents’ further development and ongoing needs.”
After the program, Marmet planned to go back to college and study to become a social worker, Adams said. “Tom grew up in a family that values service. He was introduced to SOME by his mother, Betsy, who teaches art in SOME’s day program for adults experiencing homelessness and mental illness. Tom volunteered in that program for two summers” before beginning the year-long service program.
In his application for the program, Marmet wrote, “Central to my identity is a desire to help and listen to the people in my life.”
Before attending the University of Vermont, Marmet graduated in 2014 from Maret School in the Woodley Park area of Northwest Washington.
“His teachers from the first recognized that he had an exceptionally kind heart, and he would go out of his way to help others,” the school said in a statement. Marmet entered Maret as a fourth-grader. “He was a person who could be counted on in all ways. He was a loyal and dependable friend to so many, and a number of his teachers, coaches, and advisors saw him to be the glue of the class.”
Marjo Talbott, head of Maret School, said she vividly recalls when Marmet and his family enrolled him in the school. She said he formed positive relationships with many classmates and was selected chairman of his graduating class’s five-year reunion.
“Tom was one of those children that you knew immediately had that kind of caring soul,” Talbott said.
“He was always there for his friends. He was always a gentleman and was never in my office for any discipline issues.”
She added that as an athlete in several sports, Marmet also forged strong bonds with his coaches. Roger Marmet said his son played hockey as a teenager and was captain of Maret’s lacrosse team. “He was just a special kid,” the father said, “and he had his whole life ahead of him.”
Justin Wm. Moyer contributed to this report.