1. Archive

D.C. man sprays pool with gunfire

It was almost a typical summer afternoon.

The weather in Marshall Heights was hot, muggy. The mercury threatened 90 degrees. Children crowded the pool.

The young man watched from atop a nearby hill.

Then, police and witnesses say, he began to fire a semiautomatic handgun. Repeatedly. Ten to 20 times.

Children screamed, and scrambled for cover.

When the gunman was finished Tuesday, a gray four-door was waiting. He sped away with three other men.

Six children were left wounded, but none severely.

"When I heard the shots fired, everybody started getting out of the water and getting their stuff," said 10-year-old Marcus Peoples.

Marcus stayed put.

When the shooting stopped, he ran into the locker room.

Marcus said he doesn't ever want to return to the Benning Park Recreation Center.

"It's not safe over here," he said.

The neighborhood in Southeast Washington where the shooting occurred has been troubled by violence, particularly in recent weeks.

Tuesday's gunfire was aimed at more than a hundred children.

"This just won't be tolerated," said D.C. council member Kevin P. Chavous. "The summer's just beginning."

Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly visited the two most seriously injured at Children's Hospital.

"There was just such a quiet resolve about them," Kelly said of Harry Herbert Jr., 5, and Antonio Robinson, 14.

"I'd feel better if they were more talkative and more upset. They see far too much violence."

Harry was shot in the right thigh and was in stable condition, said hospital spokesman Joseph Wright. Wright said the injury "was a through and through" wound, meaning it entered and exited the thigh cleanly.

Antonio's wound, in his right arm and shoulder, was also described as a "through and through."

Marshall Schwartz, the chief of surgery, said the two should recover with relatively minor long-term injuries.

The four other injured children were a 9-year-old girl who was grazed on the chin. A 10-year-old boy was shot in the left ankle, an 11-year-old boy was shot in the right hand, and a 13-year-old boy was grazed on the ear.

Kelly promised that the police would begin foot patrols at city recreation areas.

She cautioned, however, that "just having the police in the community isn't going to be enough."

Police said it was unclear how many of the children were hit while they were in the pool or pool area, which is surrounded by a tall fence topped with barbed wire. Witnesses said at least one child was shot while in the pool area.

Police said they could find no motive for the shootings.

The attack, which came about 2 p.m., interrupted a meeting between neighborhood activists and Inspector J. D. Simms of the 6th Police District. The activists were meeting with Simms to discuss what they described as an unusually high number of shootings in the area recently.

One neighborhood leader, Lloyd Brooks, said police have told him some of the recent shooting incidents stemmed from a rivalry between two gangs of teenagers at nearby public housing complexes. Police declined to comment on those reports.

_ Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.