UPDATE: A manslaughter charge has been brought against an eighth-grader who remains hospitalized, but has not yet been formally charged with murder. (Read more here.)
Just before 7:30 Friday morning, a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old walked to Bishop McNamara Middle School in northeast Washington to head to a basketball game. The 15-year-old had asthma and a history of an asthma attack, his mother said, and he struggled to breathe at certain times.
A police investigation released Friday said the 15-year-old shot her in the neck with a gun she found on his way to school. The mother told officers that she had obtained a gun for the 15-year-old and gave him permission to take it.
A 911 call recounted by a source briefed on the investigation depicted a frightened mother rushing down the hallway toward a second-floor classroom, yelling frantically as her other child pleaded for help.
What happened next on the classroom floor in the crowded elementary school is murky. Officers found a small white envelope containing one hollow-point bullet in front of a door, and three yellow double-edged knives next to the 15-year-old, according to an arrest affidavit. There was a pistol next to the 15-year-old, officers said, and a .357 magnum pistol next to the girl, also found near a door.
“I really just want to see my baby,” a student, who described himself as her best friend, cried to a 911 operator in the silent classroom at 12100 Walther Ave. SE.
“Please save my daughter. I need to see my baby. Please. My God. Oh my God,” the student wailed in the background of the recording.
According to the affidavit, the 15-year-old told police she threw away the .357 magnum as she was trying to run to safety.
The girl’s 18-year-old mother has told her daughter and her mother that she was being charged as an adult, the affidavit said. Both the girl and her mother are members of the D.C. Democratic Youth Caucus. The police report quoted the mother as saying that her daughter would be charged with murder.
A spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office declined to comment on the case.
Iroquois Road, a residential street off U Street and Admire Street SE, has seen a recent uptick in gunfire. Three guns were found in a home there in May, and about two weeks later, two other weapons were found, according to the Washington Post. One of the recent incidents happened near the middle school. Neighbors of the school said the school has had much of the same safety problems for the past five years.
But Friday’s shooting shocked children and parents who said there was a need for more safety measures on the street near the school. The driveway connecting a row of three red-brick houses, which sit side by side, has no walls. A student set up a white sign in the driveway, which says “Don’t Shoot and Don’t Hide,” and mentioned the girl’s death.
“When you’re here all the time with the kids, it makes a difference that we have something like this to say that it’s not OK to do it,” the mother, Marie Bryan, told the Washington Post. “If that was my child, I’d want a sign there.”
Bryan said she’s concerned about the number of teens involved in past altercations in the neighborhood and not the number of “threatening” headlines that flash in the local media.
“I’m concerned that the parents aren’t teaching their kids how to be responsible citizens,” Bryan said. “I just feel like kids are being alienated from the older generation.”
The 15-year-old girl’s family is from Mozambique and were living in D.C. as refugees. The girl has a history of school suspensions and had been battling leukemia, according to the affidavit.
The 15-year-old was transported to George Washington University Hospital in critical condition.
Today, the District has 232,925 residents of voting age. The May 20 election saw 559,602 District residents in the voting age group of 18 and older, many of whom were voting for the first time.
This article was written by Alexis C. Madrigal, Carol Lee, Healy C. Wilson, Brett Zongker and Marc Levy from The Washington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected]