A 6-year-old girl was killed and five others were injured in a shootout Friday night by a gunman in a Washington, DC, neighborhood where police officers were stationed.
Gunfire broke out in the Congress Heights section of southeast Washington shortly after 11 p.m.
Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Conti said that about 34 seconds after the first gunshot, nearby police officers responded to the scene and took the girl in a police car to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Washington DC, USA – April 12, 2015: Police vehicles stopping traffic and closing a road in Washington DC (iStock)
Police have identified the girl as Nyaya Courtney. Three men and two women suffered non-fatal gunshot wounds.
“We will do whatever we can to close this matter expeditiously and professionally,” Conti said at a news conference on Saturday.
Authorities believe the gunshot – which Conti called the “brazen” shooting – came from a passing vehicle. Police were expected to release video of the vehicle later on Saturday and were offering a reward of up to $60,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case.
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“She was starting first grade this fall and that won’t happen anymore and frankly this is unacceptable to me and it should be for every resident,” Conti said of the child.
Community members confronted Mayor Muriel Bowser and other city officials at the news conference, and demanded that they take immediate action against nearby liquor stores they claim are attracting violence to the area. He described several other recent shootings in the same area.
Bowser and Conti said the community also needs to help the police to reduce violence in the neighborhood.
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“The cowards who committed this crime came into this community, without caring for human life, without caring for Nyah’s life, and opened fire,” Conti said. “This cannot and will not be tolerated. It is time for us to say that enough is enough.”
Washington, like many other large US cities, is seeing an increase in violent crime and murders. Murders in the district are rising for the fourth year in a row, with over 100 murders already recorded in 2021.
Although the summer months are typical to see a rise in crime, this year’s nationwide spike in crime defies easy explanation. Experts point to several possible causes: the pandemic that has killed more than 600,000 people in the US, worries about the economy, large gatherings after months of stay-at-home orders, intense stress and even hot weather. .