Crime Report: ‘Moechella’ Shootings Mar Weekend Celebrations


Promoting a celebratory weekend in the city, Mayor Bowser tweeted excitedly on Friday, June 17: “DC is Open.” And, “There’s Something in the Water,” she added, referring to the start that day of the city’s three-day music festival of that name hosted by Grammy-winner Pharrell Williams. With a glorious weather forecast, Father’s Day and a packed Juneteenth three-day weekend lined up, it was time for the joyous festivities of the nation’s capital to return following years of pandemic gloom.

Unfortunately, on Sunday evening, June 19 – at the height of the city’s Father’s Day and Juneteenth festivities – sounds of gunfire in Adams Morgan, scenes of horrified crowds scattering, and grim official pronouncements of shooting victims marred what had been a glorious weekend in the District.

Near the corner of 14th and U Streets NW, Mayor Muriel Bowser and Robert J. Contee III, chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) held an on-scene press briefing to announce that the pop-up “Moechella” concert event had gotten out of hand, multiple gunshots were fired, three adults including one police officer were wounded but in stable condition and one 15 year-old male juvenile was killed.

According to the Washington Post, Brookland Middle School 7th grader Chase Poole of northeast Washington, D.C., died in the shooting. Poole was a “beautiful child who became instantly popular among his classmates,” according to a Post interview of some who knew him.

15 year-old shooting victim, Chase Poole, a 7th grader at Brookland Middle School in northeast D.C. Photo courtesy WUSA.

Following a “Moechella” social media blast of live go-go music performed from a truck, crowds of “several hundred” had gathered to watch and listen to the “unpermitted event,” Contee explained. Initially, “most of the group was contained to the sidewalk.” But soon the event spilled from the sidewalk out to the street and got out of hand.

“MPD members responded to assist in the area and at some point during the course of this gathering there was some type of incident or fight between some of the individuals in attendance,” Contee said. “That incident was broken up. But, shortly thereafter there was a second incident. We’re unsure what that incident was. But people started to scatter at that point.”

“MPD members had to shut the event down because it appeared to be unsafe at this point. So, once we [did that] there were several MPD resources as well as public safety resources from D.C. Fire and EMS on the scene trying to clear out the area because there were several people who were injured as a result of their legs and ankles being trampled as they tried to run from the area,” Contee added.

Following the shut-down of the event, “another incident right at the corner of 14th and U within very close proximity to our first responders took place in which several individuals were shot, to include a police officer,” Contee said. At no point did MPD officers discharge their firearms during the events, he stated.

“So, right now we have three civilian persons shot, two adults, one juvenile and then one police officer who was shot. The police officer is recovering at an area hospital,” Contee said, adding that the officer “received a wound to the lower extremity.” Two of the victims are “also recovering at an area hospital.” And, “unfortunately, one victim – a juvenile – is deceased.”

In the initial shooting incident, one of the wounded relinquished an “illegal firearm” to MPD. “I know it’s a mouthful, but all of these events occurred in the span of about two and a-half hours between 6 p.m. and about 8:30 p.m. or so.”

Illegal firearms continue to plague the District, Contee stressed. “Right before the shooting, our officers recovered a firearm – an illegal firearm – right here on the 1400 block of U Street NW and shortly before I walked down here, our officers recovered another illegal firearm down on the 1400 block of T Street NW and in this case another person with an illegal firearm in this area. So, I think there’s a theme that you see here. Illegal firearms in the hands of people who should not have them make events like this unsafe for people who just want to enjoy the beautiful weather, who want to enjoy Father’s Day, and want to enjoy our city,” Contee said.

Following Police Chief Contee, Mayor Bowser, looking grim, spoke to the news reporters. “We have a child who was killed today at an event that did not have any proper planning for the number of people who were here and with guns involved and with our police managing a crowd on site, somebody used a gun. And a child is dead. So, the chief and I will continue to make sure we have the resources we need on these corridors on all of our corridors, but we need some accountability here.”

Scenes of crowds fleeing gunshots – whether real or imagined – seem to be saturating local airwaves recently. On Saturday afternoon June 11, youthful protesters at the “March for Our Lives” rally on the National Mall scrambled in panic thinking someone was shooting into the crowd. And, on Saturday afternoon, June 18, a shooting at popular mall location, Tysons Corner Center in Virginia, also sent horrified shoppers running or hiding.

In other crime news, MPD detectives announced an arrest stemming from Robbery (Fear) Offense on the 4300 block of Connecticut Ave., NW. At approximately 1:04 p.m., the “suspect approached the victim at the listed location… stated he had a knife and demanded U.S. currency from the victim.” After complying, the victim then “fled the scene.” On Monday, June 12, a 16 year-old juvenile male of Northeast, D.C., was arrested and charged with the crime.

Separately, MPD detectives are investigating a homicide that occurred on Monday, May 30, in the 1700 block of Rhode Island Avenue, NW. At approximately 4:30 a.m., police responded to “sounds of gunshots,” per an MPD press release. An adult male victim was found at the scene “suffering from an apparent gunshot wound.” D.C. Fire and EMS “responded to the scene and transported the victim to an area hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries.” On Thursday, June 16, however the victim – 29 year-old Christian Gabriel Monje, of Fairfax – died from the injuries.

 

 

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