Grant Copeland Dosunmu didn’t often tell his parents where he was headed when he left his family house in upper Northwest Washington, taking off in the silver 2000 Jaguar his father had given him. It was no different Sunday evening.
But his father, Razak Dosunmu, grew concerned as he listened to weather reports predicting rain, possibly icy. He texted his 21-year-old son to come home by 10 or stay wherever he was for the night. He never got a response.
Later that night, D.C. police knocked on the door of the Dosunmu home in the Hawthorne neighborhood, on the western edge of Rock Creek Park. “They told me that my son was shot, and he had passed,” Dosunmu said. “That was it.”
Grant Dosunmu, a graduate of Wilson High School, had been found dead two blocks from his home on Chestnut Street, in his prized luxury car, slumped between the driver’s and passenger seat with a bullet wound to his upper back. The driver’s side window was shattered. Police said that they believe the gunman had been inside the vehicle. Authorities have not commented on a possible motive and have made no arrests.
A nearby homeowner found the car about 9:15 p.m. and called police to the 6900 block of 32nd Street NW.
Crime in Hawthorne, near Barnaby Woods and the Western Avenue border with Montgomery County, is low compared with many other neighborhoods in the District. Sunday’s was the community’s first homicide of the year; there were none in 2015.
And now a 61-year-old father of two is left along with his wife and grown daughter to mourn another young life lost to violence in the District. Dosunmu was the city’s 129th homicide victim of the year, down from 154 at this time in 2015.
“I don’t know what’s left,” Razak Dosunmu said Monday. He owns an auto repair shop in Takoma Park, is a part-time inventor and runs a side company procuring fuel for the military.
“For somebody to do that to my son, it’s incredible,” he said. “It’s almost like hate. How could you just shoot a young man like that? He was just 21 years old. For what reason?”
Dosunmu said that his wife, Phyliss, cannot accept the loss. “She still believes Grant will come home,” he said. “She’s going around the house saying, ‘Come home, come home.’ I keep telling her that Grant isn’t coming home any more.”
In addition to his parents, Dosunmu is survived by his older sister and a niece and nephew. The family had already been going through a difficult time.
Three weeks ago, Razak Dosunmu was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison after being convicted by a jury on two counts of offering illegal gratuities. Prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia said he offered a Defense Department procurement officer a new house, $2 million and other benefits in exchange for a jet fuel contract worth up to $80 million.
Dosunmu’s car shop on Flower Road, United Globe Auto Body, also serves as United Globe, under which Dosunmu acquires energy products, including large amounts of aviation and marine diesel fuel for the U.S. military.
Dosunmu, in an interview and in court documents, disputed the conviction and has filed an appeal, arguing that money discussed was part of what a completed deal would look like, not an illegal offer, and that he was tricked into the discussion through entrapment. He is awaiting word as to whether he can delay surrendering to prison until his appeal is heard.
Dosunmu said that he had given his son keys to the car shop and work-related documents so that Grant would be able to take over the business.
“Now, I have nobody to run the shop,” Razak Dosunmu said. “We have bills to pay. We have taxes to pay. My son told me, ‘Dad, I’ll take care of you.’ This is such a big loss. I wanted somebody that could carry on my life and all the projects that I have.”
Dosunmu said that he came to the United States from Nigeria in the late 1970s, after graduating from high school and being accepted at American University. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in economics and a master’s degree in economic affairs. He stayed in the United States, became a citizen, and married and had a family. He has lived in the house in Hawthorne since 1981.
He holds several patents for designs, including a way to safely recycle classified documents. He also has worked on a way to insert GPS tracking devices into guns to track them, as one would a lost or stolen cellphone. He said that he got the idea while watching newscasts of shootings in the District. “I was concerned about the senseless killing,” he said.
Now his own son has fallen victim to gunfire. And Dosunmu said that he has no idea why. He said that his son wasn’t in trouble — he has one conviction for marijuana possession in Montgomery County — and that he didn’t think his son was into anything troubling.
But he also said that he had little idea of where his son spent his time. Dosunmu said that his son told him he worked for a sandwich shop delivering, but that he never saw any proof. He said that his son graduated from high school but didn’t attend college and lived at home. Dosunmu said that he obtained the Jaguar by trading in two other vehicles. He said that his son had just put a new sound system in the Jaguar.
“He loved that car,” Dosunmu said. “He was always washing it.” He said that his son enjoyed playing with his niece and nephew and buying them toys.
“How could it happen to him?” his father said. “It was so close to the house.”