The 18-year-old was remembered as a standout at Paul L. Dunbar Senior High School, where he was an honor roll student who mentored classmates and served as a public advocate speaking out about enrollment issues and violence.
Instead of sending the eldest of his three children off to college, Abu Baker Bangura spent Monday with his wife, Mary, and their younger children, ages 12 and 15, planning a funeral.
The 50-year-old registered nurse was exhausted after his son’s week-long struggle to survive a bullet that struck his brain stem. He said the family pushed to transfer their son to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, but doctors reported there was little hope.
“They tried, they tried, they tried,” Abu Bangura said of the doctors. “There was nothing they could do.”
Richard Bangura was shot just before 7 p.m. in the 2400 block of Franklin Street NE, in the Langdon neighborhood. Police said at least one person opened fire on the Lexus he was driving.
Bangura was the second person from Dunbar fatally shot this month. Police said Taijhon Wyatt, 17, was fatally shot Aug. 10 in the Brightwood Park neighborhood of Northwest Washington. Police said they do not believe the incidents are related.
In a letter to parents, Dunbar’s principal, Nadine Smith, described Wyatt as a “cherished member of the Dunbar family.” She said he “was a jovial young man” who played football and was a “big brother” to his friends and teammates.
“He was a big kid with an easy smile who was filled with promise,” Smith said in the letter written before Bangura died.
The shootings bring the number of people killed in the District this year to 122, an 18 percent increase over this time in 2019, which ended with a decade-high number of homicides.
Abu Bangura said he and his son had been outside their home washing cars the Sunday of the shooting. His son finished first and drove off to meet some friends with $50 from his father for gas.
He was shot a few minutes later.
Abu Bangura said his son’s friends told him the shooter might have targeted his son because he listened to rap music recorded by a classmate who had enemies. The shooter might have “thought my son was taking sides,” Bangura said. Police have not commented on a possible motive and have not announced any arrests in the case.
“My son was not a gang banger,” Bangura said. “He is a regular kid who loves to drive his car and have fun. He has never had any encounters with police.”
Richard Bangura worked several jobs during his high school years, including at a retail sports shop, and was a student ambassador. He was active in student government and in the Urban Alliance, a nonprofit that helps high school students gain work experience, job opportunities and training.
The executive director of the Washington program, Monique Rizer, described Bangura as “bright, talented and funny,” with “so much ahead of him.”
Bangura graduated in June, and his online résumé already had him at Temple — “2020-present,” he wrote, planning to pursue a bachelor’s degree in political science and government, with a minor in criminal justice. Next to “Dream career field,” he wrote “law practice.” Next to “Dream career goals,” he entered “Judge or Politician.”
Abu Bangura said his 12-year-old son is taking the death particularly hard. The boy believed he could be the best football player ever, his father said, “and his brother was going to make that happen” by driving his sibling to football games and weeknight practices while his parents, both nurses, worked.
Last year, when he was 17, Bangura wrote an essay about his life. He noted that his sophomore year at Dunbar was particularly tough, and that he worked “to keep myself out of all the mischief that my peers were involved with.”
He lost a friend to gun violence, and another friend was wounded in a shootout, he said in his essay. Later, while trying to mediate that dispute three years ago, he was shot in the leg, a block from school.
Bangura said he spent the time in a hospital “reflecting on how I could’ve easily lost my life if I hadn’t acted fast enough, and thinking that me surviving is God’s way of showing me that I can do bigger and better things, and be around better people.”
Bangura wrote that “life has hit me with many powerful blows that have made attempts to destroy my psyche, including seeing friends taking their last breath, standing over friends and family in caskets, or just negative atmosphere.”
He declared that “the environment I grew up in WILL NOT be a deciding factor on how I conduct my life.”