The teenager shot and killed Saturday on a Metro station platform was on his way to get a haircut for Easter and was standing next to his mother and younger sisters when he was attacked, a relative said Sunday night.
The youth, who was identified as Davonte Washington, 15, was a quiet young man who “didn’t party” and “didn’t do drugs,” his grandfather, Victor Leonard, said in an interview Sunday night.
The shooting “just doesn’t make any sense,” Leonard said. He said Davonte lived in Maryland and was spending a couple of days with his mother, who lives in the District.
As for the reason for the attack, Leonard said, “Nobody knows.” Davonte’s mother said she had never seen the assailant, and there was no indication that he had been having any problems with anyone, Leonard added.
The two sisters who saw the attack are 6 and 9, he said.
The entire family is “absolutely devastated,” Leonard said.
Davonte was a freshman at Largo High School in Prince George’s County and a member of Air Force Junior ROTC there, according to a spokeswoman for the county schools.
According to a preliminary investigation, the teenager apparently was involved in a conversation that escalated into an argument. At some point, the other individual is believed to have drawn a gun and fired, police said.
The Deanwood Metro station, where the shooting occured, was mostly quiet Sunday, with a smattering of riders waiting on the platform. Sarah Lewis, 43, uses the Orange Line station, in Northeast Washington, about twice a week. When she heard about the shooting, she said, she didn’t have a reaction.
“I’m used to this,” she said. “Where I live at, it’s every day.”
While travelers made their way through the station, the transitional neighborhood east of the Anacostia River and not far from the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens was left with a demoralizing set of questions, from the profound to the practical.
What does it say about life in the nation’s capital that a shooter would wield his weapon right in the open, in the middle of the day, with so little regard for the consequences, either to perpetrator or victim? And what does Saturday’s incident — and a shooting by a teenager aboard a Green Line train last month — say about the security of the region’s subway system?
“I just don’t know how to get to the bottom of the brazenness or the nonchalance of someone carrying that out,” D.C. Council member Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7) said of the Deanwood killing. There is so much that contributes to the criminal mind, Alexander said, “whether it be mental illness, whether it be lack of parental supervision, whether it be communities where people are coming from, their environment, their social environment. I think we need to look into all of that.
“It’s still hard to just put your arms around a 15-year-old being gunned down in broad daylight, in a public space, where people are all around,” she said.
Moreover, it’s unclear whether boosting the visibility of police could have prevented the incident, Alexander said. “I don’t even know if more police presence is the answer,” she said.
Although more and more-visible police there may have made an arrest faster, it wouldn’t necessarily have prevented the shooting, Alexander said.
“With terrorist attacks or mass shootings, you just cannot live your life in fear. . . . You just do what you have to do. People have to go to work; people have to get around, live their lives,” she said.
Annette Lucas, 67, echoed that sentiment. Lucas said she doesn’t plan to avoid the station, although she remains shaken.
“I feel less safe at all of them,” said Lucas, who attends church each Sunday close to Deanwood at the Holy Trinity International Washington Center. “I’m definitely going to keep my eyes peeled.”
The location is not the issue, she said. “You can walk down the street and something can happen,” she said. “It is what it is.”
Metro said its surveillance systems led to quick arrests in the Green Line shooting, in which a man was wounded as the train approached Anacostia. In the weeks leading up to that earlier shooting, more officers than normal had been aboard trains to address an increase in assaults and robberies.
Metro also said it increased security after the Brussels subway and airport terrorist bombings last week. The Deanwood shooting is not a sign that Metro has a broader problem, Metro spokeswoman Morgan Dye said.
Saturday’s “homicide was a tragedy for the community. There’s nothing specific to Metro about this tragedy. The stations are a part of the communities we serve, and we share the community’s grief. Where it occurred is not the point. That it occurred is,” Dye said.
“Metro is safe. Metro’s security posture remains elevated following the Brussels attack, and [the Metro Transit Police Department] continually adjusts deployment strategies to keep riders safe.”
A Transit Police officer was patrolling outside the station Sunday, but the addition was because of the Belgium attacks, the official said.
The Deanwood killing appears to be the 26th slaying in the city this year.
Remy Garvin, 18, of Benning Terrace in the District, said Metro needs more police. But he said that won’t solve the problem.
“It’s not going to stop,” he said. “There is still going to be violence.”
Calvin Johnson, 40, uses the Deanwood station each day to go to work. The recent violence won’t throw off his commuting patterns or stop him from showing up “I got to,” he said. “I ain’t got no car.”
Johnson said delays immediately after Saturday’s shooting were frustrating. The station was closed for a time. But the only thing that would prevent Johnson from riding Metro is a Brussels-like attack.
“Unless I really feel threatened, like with a terrorist thing, I’ll be riding,” he said. “Other than that, I’m cool.”