By Steve Birr
A seven-year-old girl is fighting for her life after an unexplained shooting in Washington, D.C., as she and her family were returning from dinner, in what residents describe as a troubling trend of local violence.
The incident occurred as the family walked down the 2900 block of Knox Place in Southeast D.C. at roughly 9:30 p.m. Friday. A shooter opened fired in the neighborhood, sending four rounds down the street in a chaotic scene, shattering a car window and striking the seven-year-old in the abdomen. Police took the girl to a nearby hospital where she initially was listed in critical condition.
“It was just boom, boom, big shots, it was loud shots,” one unidentified resident caught in the shooting told WJLA.
The Metropolitan Police Department began a thorough search of the area for clues Saturday to identify the killer and establish a motive for the unexplained act of violence. Officers interviewed residents throughout the neighborhood, but so far police are not releasing any information on the suspect or what prompted the shooting. (RELATED: Arrest Made In Fatal Shooting Of 15-Year-Old In DC Metro)
A woman from the neighborhood where the incident took place who wishes to remain anonymous told WUSA9 she witnessed the child collapse next to her father and sibling after the shots rang down the street. The woman rushed out to lend assistance when she saw the father enter her building carrying the injured child.
“I just heard gunshots, I was in the room,” the unidentified woman told WJLA. “They said the child was shot so I hurried up and called 9-1-1 and grabbed a towel. The father was really frantic and they just stayed with the child. And I heard him say, ‘stay with me, stay with me.’”
Paul Trantham, the local ANC commissioner in Ward 8 said safety reforms are an urgent necessity for the community to deal with such apparently senseless violence, suggesting a greater police presence and increased lighting on the streets.
“I’m sick and tired of all the violence over here,” Trantham told WJLA. “You’ve got bad individuals that don’t understand or respect life in the community. Get them out of here.”
A disturbing trend of violence, particularly a spike in homicides in 2015, is causing concern among local residents and city officials who are offering various policy initiatives to address the saftey threat. Mayor Muriel Bowser proposed a safety plan that increased penalties for crimes committed on public transit like the metro service, where a 15-year-old boy was recently fatally shot.
The D.C. Council rejected her proposal. Council member Kenyan McDuffie recently proposed legislation dubbed “pay for peace,” which seeks to use taxpayer money to pay criminals from refraining from crime, particularly violent crimes like homicide. The proposal does not have the support of the mayor, giving the plan an uncertain future. (RELATED: Evidence Mounts DC Plan To Pay Violent Criminals Will Fail At Taxpayer’s Expense)
Police issued a $10,000 reward for anyone with information which can help lead to an arrest in the shooting. Authorities updated the condition of the seven-year-old girl Saturday from critical condition to critical but stable condition. She is currently recovering at Children’s National Medical Center.
Residents in the Ward 8 neighborhood where the she was shot are rattled by the attack, saying they feel unsafe on their own streets and fear for the safety of their children on a daily basis. The community is grieving for the young girl injured in the senseless shooting.
“It hurt my heart that this baby was innocent,” Areyon Butler, a mother in the neighborhood told WUSA9. “She didn’t do anything. Why does she have to get shot?”