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Authorities Inspect Columbia Heights Building Where Boy Is Killed

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By Patrick Madden

While police continue to search for the gunman who killed a boy in his apartment in Northwest D.C., authorities are also looking at the safety of the entire building.

Outside the apartment building in Columbia Heights where nine-year-old Oscar Fuentes lived, the white front door hangs loosely off the hinges. The lock is gone, and the entire front of the building is littered with gang graffiti. For Landy Thompson, a local gang outreach coordinator, these are all bad signs.

"You got some MS-13 tags on the building, just the local tags, and it's different people that frequent here, clustered together, so when that happens, a lot of people usually don't get along, it's gonna cause violence," says Thompson. "It's like sending a message. Who's territory it once was, who's territory it is now."

Inside, a team of inspectors from the city's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs scoured the building top-to-bottom. They found more than a hundred safety violations.

The building's owner, Hermidia Steininger, says she ordered a new front door a few weeks ago. And as for the presence of gangs she says, "don't tell me the police don't know it. I have called police more than 25 times." "Managers have called them. Tenants have called him. Everything stays the same. It cools down a while then it comes up the same thing," says Steininger.

The building is now under 24-hour surveillance.


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