On Tuesday morning, the grandmother emerged from her home of 27 years with a broom in one hand and a gallon jug of bleach in the other. She started at the front door, scrubbing away the blood.
Step by step by step. Until she reached the sidewalk.
“I hope the police catch the people that did this,” the grandmother said at the bottom. She spoke on the condition of anonymity for safety reasons and also would not give the name of her injured granddaughter.
The girl was shot about 8:45 p.m. in the 100 block of 56th Street SE, a residential area of mostly retirees two blocks south of East Capitol Street, near Marshall Heights. She was in a silver Dodge Nitro — similar to a small van — along with her 11-year-old sister and their mother. They had come to pick up the mother’s son, who was staying with his grandmother.
Police said at least one man armed with a rifle in a dark four-door Lexus or Acura opened fire, striking the Dodge Nitro and hitting the 6-year-old. Police said the mother and the 11-year-old also were injured, either grazed by bullets or hit by broken glass or other shrapnel.
All were taken to hospitals.
No arrest has been made as of Tuesday evening. Police said the dark-colored car the shooter was in had a wing on the back and a license plate in the front window.
The injured girl’s grandmother said the student had been so excited by the start of the school year on Monday that she and her friends took selfies with her school building in the background. On Tuesday, instead of returning for her second day of class, she had to nurse her wounds. Her grandmother said doctors advised that it was too dangerous to remove the bullet from the girl’s leg.
For now, it would have to stay.
“She’s angry, and she wants to know who did this to her,” the grandmother said. “She’s traumatized.”
The girl has now become another reminder of the violence that haunts neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River, where two-thirds of this year’s 99 homicides have occurred. Killings in the District are up 36 percent this year compared with last year, and are in danger of reaching or exceeding the 2015 mark of 162 that came amid a crime surge that frightened residents. Killings this year include that of 10-year-old Makiyah Wilson, who died July 16 in a courtyard in Clay Terrace, just more than a half-mile from Monday’s shooting.
At the site where the 6-year-old was shot, shards of yellow crime scene tape clung to signposts on Tuesday, as well as screens placed there to protect newly planted flowering trees. There also were chalk circles drawn by police to mark bullet casings and other evidence.
On Tuesday afternoon, police said a person was stabbed on the same block. He was reported conscious, and police said they were investigating whether the 2:35 p.m. stabbing was related to the gunfire Monday night.
Police statistics show seven homicides in the patrol area that includes the neighborhood, up from two at this time in 2017. The area covers Marshall Heights and parts of Benning Terrace, along with the quieter streets, including the one where the shooting occurred. Robberies are down, but assaults with and without guns are up, police statistics show, with overall violent crime up 15 percent in the area.
Ebbon A. Allen, chairman of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 7E, which serves 56th Street, said he met last week with police from the 6th District to talk about what he calls “an unacceptable” amount of violent crime.
“It’s our kids, our babies,” Allen said, listing victims.
Allen said new ways are needed to keep guns from coming into the District and called for residents to partner with police to help.
“We need the community speaking up, and speaking out,” he said. “It’s very frustrating and very frightening. A lot of people are afraid to come out of their front doors. We’ve got to bring back safer and stronger communities.”
The wounded girl’s grandmother said she was inside her house when she heard the gunshots. “It sounded like the way grenades sound on TV,” she said. “Only there was a lot of them.” Her grandson hit the floor, and the grandmother carefully opened her front door to see her daughter-in-law collapse on the street and her granddaughter running as best she could.
The grandmother said images of the slain Makiyah went through her head. She did not know the little girl, but she said her church helped raise money for the family. “Last night, that could’ve been my granddaughter,” she said.
The woman turned to walk back up her steps, now clean. She paused for another moment. “It’s a shame,” she said. “Why do we have so many guns, and where do they come from? That’s the reason so many people are killing.”