A suspect who police said had set up a tripod in an apartment along one of Washington’s busiest corridors and fired more than 20 shots indiscriminately, injuring four people, apparently committed suicide Friday night as police prepared to enter the apartment. to go, authorities said.
News of the suspect’s death came about six hours after the 3:20 p.m. shooting, forcing people to rush to safety and police telling residents and students in the Cleveland Park and Van Ness areas to take their seats. take shelter while looking for an attacker.
The terror and confusion ended late Friday when the city’s police chief, Robert J. Contee III, announced just after 9:30 p.m. that the suspect in the case had been found dead in a fifth-floor apartment, which contained a tripod that police described as a “sniper-type setup”, at least six rifles and many cartridges of ammunition.
Three adults and a 12-year-old girl were injured in the shooting. Two of the adults were in a hospital in stable condition on Friday evening; the girl was in stable condition with minor injuries; and a woman grazed by a bullet was treated at the scene.
During an earlier press conference, the police said they were looking for a “person of interest”, Raymond Spencer, 23, of Fairfax, Virginia, whom they wanted to interrogate. Spencer’s name came up “based on things we’ve seen on social media,” said Stuart Emerman, assistant chief of the Metropolitan Police Department.
Later in the evening, Chief Contee said he would not release the name of the deceased suspect until the family was notified. But he said police were no longer looking for the person of interest.
Chief Contee said the investigation was ongoing. “We’ll get to the bottom of this,” he said. “We are going to find out what the motive is. At the moment we don’t have that answer. But the answer we do have is that our communities are safe now.”
After reports of gunfire in the afternoon, officers at 2900 block of Van Ness Street, off Connecticut Avenue, in the northwest district, responded and conducted checks “in several buildings,” police said. Those in the area had to stay indoors.
Possible video of the attack circulated online showing bursts of rapid gunfire from an elevated location. Chief Contee said the video “looks very authentic, but we want to make sure of that.” He added that the video had helped police “make sure we were focused in the right place”.
Chief Contee said the fact that the gunfire appeared to have been aimed indiscriminately at people in the street shows “the wickedness of some of the individuals we deal with in our communities”.
Hours after the shooting, dozens of police cars and emergency vehicles remained on Connecticut Avenue, with several blocks still closed to traffic. Additional emergency services, including a truck decorated with the Homeland Security and Emergency Management insignia, also arrived on the scene.
Laila, a freshman at Edmund Burke School who refused to share her last name, said she was walking from a CVS store to the school when she heard the first gunshots. She thought it was construction noise.
“Then the second round of shots happened and my friends were running,” she wrote in a post on Instagram. She and others were told a gunman was nearby. She and her friends ran to her house nearby, she said.
Parents waited outside the school for their children. Police said a family reunion site was located at the Cleveland Park Library, at 3300 block of Connecticut Avenue.
A woman, who wanted to be identified only by her first name, Birtukan, said she was walking to pick her up 13-year-old daughter in Edmund Burke around 3:30 p.m. when her daughter texted her not to come to school.
“Are you safe,” the text read. “I love you.”
The shooting occurred near student housing at the University of the District of Columbia, the United States university said on Twitter†
Petra Hoke24, lives in a block of flats across the street from the AVA Van Ness block of flats that appeared to be the center of police activity.
She said she didn’t hear the gunfire, but did hear many sirens which she first attributed to a passing motorcade, which is a common sight on Connecticut Avenue.
But then she heard helicopters urging her to leave the building to see what was going on.
She described a scene of about 100 law enforcement officers and several armored vehicles clogging the street. She said heavily armed officers escorted people from the AVA Van Ness building in groups of 10 or 15. At one point, she said, she saw about 30 officers enter the building.
Mrs. Hoke said she had lived in the area for three years. “This is the first time I’ve heard anything like this,” she said.
Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a news conference Friday night that the country has experienced “too much” gun violence and people should not be afraid to send their children to school.
“I had to look into the eyes of the parents tonight who were terrified,” she said, “and they were terrified when they thought of what might happen to their children.”