By NAFEESA SYEED Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) The crowd of people targeted in a drive-by shooting that killed four and wounded five others had just returned from the funeral of a victim of another recent shooting nearby, a witness said Wednesday.
The shooting Tuesday was the worst shooting in D.C. in 16 years. Three people had been arrested and at least two people were being charged, authorities said.
William Cheek, the owner of the apartment building the crowd of about 15 was standing in front of, said he had just walked across the street to buy a lottery ticket when he heard gunshots at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. He turned around and saw many people had fallen to the ground. His 20-year-old grandson was among the victims.
"I saw him breathe his last breath," Cheek said, a tear running down his face. "He was shot in the head." Cheek didn't want to identify his grandson but said he was enrolled in a GED class, played basketball and hoped to become a long-distance bus driver.
"They got shot right on my porch," said Cheek, a case manager at a local community center with programs on substance abuse, job training and anger management. Neighbor Victoria Jones said young people in the area often go to Cheek for support and gather in front of his house.
Police said the victims were six men and three women but did not release their names. All were in their 20s and 30s, except for one teenager, fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said.
The D.C. councilman who represents the area, former Mayor Marion Barry, said a dispute between "crews," neighborhood groups that are not as formal as gangs, led to the shooting.
The crowd standing in front of Cheek's house had just returned from a funeral for Jordan Howe, who was killed on March 22 about a mile and a half away from a drive-by shooting. Sanquan Carter, 19, has been charged with second-degree murder in that shooting.
The shooting was the worst in D.C. since 1994, when four men fired into a crowd at the O Street Market, killing a teenager and wounding eight other people. A man was convicted of orchestrating the shooting to retaliate against people who had shot him in the stomach and robbed him several weeks earlier. He believed the people who had attacked him often visited the market.
Four D.C. officers were slightly injured while chasing a suspect's vehicle into neighboring Prince George's County in Maryland, authorities said. A weapon was also recovered.
Officers had cleared the shooting scene Wednesday, but there were still five police cruisers parked outside a brick garden-style apartment building on a main road that links the area to downtown. There was a blood-covered gauze package on the sidewalk, which was wet and smelled of bleach.
The shootings were in a neighborhood near a water treatment plant and Bolling Air Force Base and about seven miles from the White House. D.C. Councilman Phil Mendelson said the area was known for drugs and related violence.
"It's not a stranger to violent activity, unfortunately," said Mendelson, the chairman of the D.C. Council's Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary.
Barry said that he was worried about further retaliation between groups that he had been reassured by police. Washington reported 143 homicides last year, the fewest in nearly 50 years.
Associated Press writers Matthew Barakat, Jessica Gresko, Sarah Karush and Brett Zongker contributed to this report.
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