City Desk

Mystery Shooting In Columbia Heights: Loose Lips Daily

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—"Pershing Park Case: Now It's All About The Coverup; Nickles Faces Huge Test In U.S. District Court," and "Councilmember Cheh Calls For Nickles To Resign."

Morning all. LL has biked to Dewey Beach leaving me to takeover the LL Daily franchise for a week. LL was kind enough to e-mail me a handy rundown of what he does to fuel this beast. I am no LL. So please, take it easy on me. It's also August.

Mayor Fenty was involved in a car accident on Sunday evening. Thankfully, he wasn't driving his Le Car. Fox is reporting that "No injuries were reported in the crash on Broad Branch Road in northwest Washington. A spokeswoman for Fenty says he was behind the wheel of a sport utility vehicle when another vehicle apparently went through a stop sign and pulled in front of the mayor's SUV. There was minor damage to the vehicles." (WTOP has same).

Columbia Heights is again the focus of a potentially controversial shooting. WJLA is reporting that a Special Police Officer (i.e. a private security guard) shot and killed a resident during a confrontation on Friday night. WUSA9 is also on the story. The D.C. Police Department has issued more info on the shooting via a press release:

"At approximately 9:06 pm on Friday, July 31, 2009, officers from the Third District responded to the 1400 block of Girard Street, NW, to investigate the report of a shooting. Upon arrival they discovered an adult male lying in front of a building at that location suffering from an apparent gunshot wound. The victim was transported by personnel from the DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The decedent in this case has been identified as 31-year-old Michael Dwayne Parker of the 4000 block of Livingston Road, SE.

A preliminary investigation into this case indicates that the decedent may have been fatally shot at the above location during an alleged confrontation with a Special Police Officer employed by a private company. It must be noted that all of the circumstances surrounding this case remain under active investigation and that all facts will be subsequently presented to the United States Attorney’s Office for their review."

Last week, the D.C. Council gave its OK on that huge hotel development near the Convention Center. The Post offers a fine rundown of the development's lengthy backstory and its major selling point—that it may revive Shaw. Key graph: "The hotel, promised when the District broke ground on the convention center in 1998, will stretch more than 1 million square feet at Ninth Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW. It will rise 14 stories, a mix of modern glass and steel and brick dating to 1916 in a design that incorporates the old headquarters of the American Federation of Labor, a landmark building on the otherwise vacant property." Honestly, how many major projects does it take to develop Shaw? Not sure if a big shiny hotel is it.

The D.C. Council also voted to increase unemployment benefits (Washington Business Journal, WTOP , WJLA, NC8).

Hope and change remain the main narratives on the education front. The Post's Bill Turque breaks down the different groups taking over a number of District public schools this coming year. NYC's Friends of Bedford is set to takeover Coolidge and Dunbar. Friendship Public Charter Schools is taking over Anacostia High. Key graph: "Experts say one of the lessons learned is that starting a school from scratch is usually easier than taking control of an existing one, where political feuds, bureaucratic inertia and scar tissue from past reform attempts can make change difficult." And then there's this: "Friendship and Friends of Bedford will face that challenge at Anacostia, Dunbar and Coolidge. Although they have autonomy on matters of curriculum, instruction and teacher professional development, the schools' staff." Meanwhile, the Post reports that MOCO expanded its summer school programming.

AFTER THE JUMP: More Fedex Field controversy this time over this past Saturday's Paul McCartney show, an upcoming hearing is scheduled over the fire hydrant-water-flow issues, and so much more!

News Channel 8 reports that another Metro bus driver has been arrested. This time for driving on a suspended license: "Carletta Douglas was arrested Thursday in the District after a traffic accident. Douglas was driving a 92-line Metrobus on Good Hope Road near 25th Street SE when another vehicle hit her bus, police said. A Metro spokesman says 35 passengers were on the bus at the time. One passenger complained of neck pain was taken away by ambulance." This is not Douglas' first arrest: "Publicly available court records show Douglas was charged with second-degree assault in November 2001, nine months after she was hired at Metro. It's unclear how the case was resolved.... Thursday's arrest was the second in one week of a Metrobus operator. On Saturday, Michael Robinson, 41, was arrested on a kidnapping charge after he allegedly refused to allow a passenger to exit the bus."

There were huge issues getting into Saturday's Paul McCartney show at FedEx Field. WTOP reports: "Delays of over two hours forced the concert to start over an hour late so people could get into their seats. Zack Bolno, Executive Director of Communications for the Washington Redskins said the backup was because most people were only using one entrance and that four other entrances to the stadium were under-utilized. 'This was a new audience unfamiliar with the stadium.'"

The Washington Times has a nice puff piece on Legg Mason. Apparently, the tournament is stronger than ever in recruiting tennis' top tier talent.

FENTY TODAY: 2:00 pm
Remarks Hillcrest Play Courts Ribbon Cutting
Location: Hillcrest Play Courts & Recreation Center
3100 Denver Street, SE

3:15 pm
Remarks All Hands On Deck and National Night Out Announcement
Location: 18th and M Streets, NE

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Comments

  1. #1

    If the decedent in the Columbia Heights shooting lived at the 4000 block of Livingston Road, SE, how are they a "resident?" It's a minor error, but saying "shot and killed a resident" colors the report negatively against the "special policeman" and it's not accurate.

  2. #2

    Jaime...don't get so touchy. RESIDENT is appropriate, but "DC Resident" is more descriptive. Stop drawing Ward and neighborhood lines in this one. If you traveled to Barry Farms, Brookland, Ivy City, or the Palisades, you would still be considered a DC Resident. If you traveled to Montgomery County, Alexandria, etc. and folks looked at your ID, you would still be considered a DISTRICT of COLUMBIA Resident.

    A man is dead here...under dubious or suspicious terms. Whether or not his "home" neighborhood reflects poorly on where you live is irrelevant. Not all murders in DC happen in SouthEast between "residents" of SouthEast.

  3. #3

    One more thing...your comment almost makes the assumption that people from "the other side of town" shouldn't be allowed where you live and are worthy of being challenged, detained, or shot.

    As quiet as it's kept, from the late 60's to the early 90's, your precious Columbia Heights was known for drug activity. 14th and Girard (the west side no less) was a notorious open air drug market where folks could cop heroin and marijuana. It wasn't just Black folks either. White folks from "out of town" would traverse those streets to get their fix. A Starbucks, Target, or Metro station doesn't change the characteristics of the neighborhood, or the results of history. However, PEOPLE with a tad bit of diversity can.

  4. #4

    Not to pile on, but Q: your comment is exactly what I was thinking. Someone's home address should not preclude them from visiting certain parts of the District. Jamie's comment was bizarre and paranoid.

  5. #5

    Personally, I think the use of the term "resident" is bizarre. When you talk about a specific neighborhood and even address, and then refer to a resident, most normal people would assume they were a resident of that address.

    Why would anyone assume you meant "dc resident?" If you think I should assume that's what you meant, versus the much more obvious "resident of the neighborhood that you're talking about," then why wouldn't I just assume you meant resident of the United States, or Earth, or anything other than the place you're talking about?

    I challenge you to find a single report of a crime that uses the word "resident" to refer to anything other than a resident of the building or neighborhood which you are talking about.

  6. #6

    Q, Jesus H. Christ.

    Where on earth did you get the idea that I was saying something about who should be in what neighborhood? If you think I'm being sensitive, then you are way off the deep end.

    The point of my comment is that when you talk about a specific address and then say "resident," it sounds like the person lives there, and that when you say something that reads like "a cop shot someone in or near his home" it sounds a lot worse than "a cop shot someone."

    This could have been in Trinidad, or Georgetown, or Mars. My comment would have been the same. I have no idea why you think this had anything to do with profiling certain neighborhoods, but it doesn't.

  7. #7

    I agree 100% with Q and Jason Cherkis. Those type of statements or what has led to the perception at least from those of us that live in River East (I refuse to use East of the River anymore) that we are some kind of 2nd class citizen.

    If this was reversed and this was a Colubmia Heights resident murdered in Southeast you bet your biscuits he would have been termed a resident and there would have been no debate about that - only more accusations that SouthEast DC is a full of killers and crooks who pray on poor River West residents. These misconceptions must stop.

  8. #8

    Both specific and "general" use:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/29/AR2009072900696.html

    "Several residents in the complex..."

    "Residents said they saw officers working...'Hold on, buddy, paramedics are coming,' " said Shawn Amirgazil, 31, a Web developer who lives nearby."

  9. #9

    You know, you guys both need some reading comprehension. The sentence:

    "Special Police Officer (i.e. a private security guard) shot and killed a resident during a confrontation"

    Are you going to sit there with a straight face and tell me that anyone would take this to mean "a random DC resident" versus "a resident of the place the cop was?"

    And please get over yourselves on the neighborhood profiling thing, that has absolutely nothing to do with my extremely brief comment. Go read it again.

  10. #10

    umm, Q, you lose. The word resident is used in every occasion to refer to residents of the complex.

    Your out-of-context quoting is interesting, but unfortunately, the last sentence is a different paragraph. "Residents said they saw officers working" obviously refers to residents of the complex, as it had been used twice before.

    The second part of your excerpt is IN A NEW PARAGRAPH. They quoted someone and then refer to him NOT AS A RESIDENT, but as someone who lives nearby.

    Finally, after quoting that guy, they describe someone else as "another NEIGHBOR", not a resident.

  11. #11

    Jaime,

    I wasn't saying there wasn't an overuse or misuse of "resident". What I'm saying is, when I read the article, I resonably deduced that Mr. Parker was a DC Resident (based on his last known address) and may or may not have been a resident of Columbia Heights. If anything, the resident moniker almost makes it sound like a "turf" battle.

    You also have to look at the reporter too. If you have someone who isn't really used to covering DC and the locales you will get, DC-on-DC crime perpetrated by "residents". This would distinguish crimes from Prince George's County residents-on-DC residents or Montgomery County residents-on-DC residents.

    Would "citizens", "inhabitants", etc. be any better?

  12. #12

    I think your original suggestion, "DC resident," would have been just fine, if it's even necessary to identify him that way at all. I said from the get go that this was a minor problem, but it changes the way it reads.

    Resident is a term that refers to a specific place. The only places mentioned in the article are: Columbia Heights, Girard Street. So it makes it sound like the victim was a resident of 1400 block of Girard Street and was shot in or near his home.

    That is all. There is nothing about who should be where. When I read the sentence, I thought Jason meant "a resident of the place in front of which he was killed," and though to myself, "rent-a-cop kills guy in his own home? that is bad." Then I read that his address was elsewhere, creating a contradiction, and I said, "okay, another guy shot, bad, but not as bad as a cop shooting someone in his own home. That is not great writing, I think I will comment."

  13. #13

    Advoc8te:

    "only more accusations that SouthEast DC is a full of killers and crooks who pray on poor River West residents"

    That is QUITE a leap from:

    "Saying “shot and killed a resident” colors the report negatively against the “special policeman” and it’s not accurate."

    Wow. Just wow.

    Anyway, if it makes you feel any better, I honestly have never even heard of the suggestion that people from SE prey on and kill people from the other side of the river, until now. From you. Is that really what YOU think of US? That we sit around on our porches, shaking our heads, and blame all our crime problems on all those bad people who live "over there?"

    It is pretty obvious that the vast majority of violent crime in Columbia Heights is perpetrated by Columbia Heights residents. I don't know why anyone would think otherwise.

  14. #14

    Jaime, the quote was in context of the story. I'm trying to find better examples, but try these more obscure references:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/27/AR2009072701914.html

    "Most of the displaced residents..."
    "Some longtime residents feel..."

    {Are they talking about Atlanta Public Housing Residents or Public Residents in General}

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/30/AR2009073000144.html

    "The police officer asked Gates for identification to prove he was the resident." {How about owner?}

  15. #15

    Q, I'm not really sure what you're tying to demonstrate with these examples. In each, the word "resident" refers to something that they have clearly identified before its use, which is what Jason did not do.

    Your first one is a story about a housing complex. The title is "Atlanta close to tearing down last housing project." Resident obviously refers to the housing project.

    Your second one is in a sentence immediately following "Gates had just returned from a trip abroad, and found his front door jammed." Resident refers to the home to which his front door is attached.

    Jason's story is titled "Mystery shooting in Columbia Heights." Then he says: "Columbia Heights is again the focus of a potentially controversial shooting. WJLA is reporting that a Special Police Officer (i.e. a private security guard) shot and killed a resident during a confrontation."

    The use is wrong. There is no way around it. There is no mention of the District of Columbia at large; the title of the story is Columbia Heights; the sentence immediately preceding it says Columbia Heights.

  16. #16

    Jaime, I'm not going to keep this going, but the Housing Project example could also be seen as ambiguous based on the references to other cities in earlier paragraphs.

    If your issue is the "use" of "resident", maybe you could've plainly stated it as well. Somehow in your comments, at least three people took slight offense to what you said. Neither of the three of us share the same brain, and I didn't email them your comments. They read them independantly and came to their own conclusion.

    Before we play the semantics and syntax police, how about if your comment read like a question i.e., "Did the decedent live in Columbia Heights? The way the article is written I got the assumption that he was a resident of Columbia Heights or the Building."

    Simple as that. It focused on your intepretation. No mistunderstood "implied racism" either.

  17. #17

    Jamie- I actually shared your confusion re: "resident" about the address of the decedent, and so understood what you were trying to say. For whatever that's worth.
    Interesting that there's no mention of whether the SPO was also a "resident", but I'd guess s/he'd have to be. Of some place or another, anyway.

  18. #18

    Jamie - you're right here. The wording implies that the victim lived in the building. Whether or not the victim is from the immediate vicinity becomes quite pertinent since we are discussing a block that, per the hyper-sensitive River East resident, is notorious for open-air drug dealing. I think we can all admit there's a distinction between a resident of the neighborhood walking to the bus stop or the corner store, and a resident of DC (or Arlington or Takoma or wherever) who might be on an allegedly shaky block for less than legit purposes. Or the guy could have been visiting a cousin or firend. Who knows? Whether the victim was from Ward 8 or Ward 3, he's not from there, and the wording was sloppy. People need to stop the damn hypersensitivity.

  19. #19

    You ever notice people use the term "hypersensitive" when they are NOT the person/group offended? Living in River East gives you an entirely different perspective. It's not about playing the "blame game" but it's about dealing with these misconceptions and accusations that we deal with on a daily basis just because we happen to live "east of the river". I have had some idiot spamming my blog for a month calling Congress Heights residents "Yard Apes who destroyed Congress Heights with their murdering and crime" and even in 2009 can't get a cab to come over the bridge because I live "over the river so pardon me if I appear "hypersensitive".

    Semantics aside isn't the true horror of this situation that someone DIED and not weather or not the term "resident" was the most accurate?

    Perhaps I am the only one who is more disturbed that someone lost their life - regardless of their home address.

    We need to get a grip.

  20. #20

    Agree with Jamie: It's incorrect grammar that confuses the reader. The leaps of logic committed by Cherkis, Q, and Advoc8te are simply ridiculous. Grammar mistakes happen. Simply correct them and leave the armchair psychology to the professionals.

  21. #21

    Advoc8te:
    If you wish to avoid being labeled "hypersensitive", you might try to avoid statements such as:
    "Perhaps I am the only one who is more disturbed that someone lost their life – regardless of their home address."
    BTW- I'm sorry about the idiot spamming your blog with hateful drivel. I'd definitely be annoyed if I were you. But there's probably not much I or anyone reading this blog (except perhaps you- can you moderate the comments?) can do about that.
    We can, however, point out misleading grammar. :)

  22. #22

    i have to throw in a vote for jamie's interpretation of the wording here as well. i think that he had a very valid point and didn't deserve the slamming he'd received early in this thread.

  23. #23

    I really can't believe that you've all spent all this time debating the use of a word and barely addressed the facts. It's really sad.

  24. #24

    I agree with Jamie that the word "resident" here is confusing at best. There's nothing in the story for him to be a resident of except Columbia Heights.

    But I did find it a little odd for Jamie to say that the word made things look worse for the security guard. That implies that somehow it would be a little more okay if the security guard shot someone who was visiting from outside Columbia Heights, so I can see why some commenters reacted negatively.

  25. #25

    Jojo, if you have facts for people to address, then by all means provide them. There are no facts here to base any discussion of the incident on.

  26. #26

    I know. Poor Jamie got killed. Cherkis called him "bizarre and paranoid." Pretty harsh language for such an easily offended group, huh?

  27. #27

    I am very, very sensitive.

  28. #28

    Ahh...KCinDC is yet a 4th person who was "sensitive" to Jaime's comment. I can't believe a person is dead and we are deconstructing the use of a simple word...resident. Somehow this makes the shooting shallow by comparision. "resident" is the new word that you shouldn't be able to shout in a crowded theater ... or at least in front of a group of grammarians, English Majors, and frequent newspaper readers.

  29. #29

    No, Q.
    Regrettably, we can do nothing for the res- er- the man who has passed. Nothing, perhaps, but ask the details of his identity and passing be properly aired.

  30. #30

    I read the article thinking that the poor kid who was killed was a resident of 14th and Girard. Jamie has a good point. I took his comments to serve as a clarification and constructive.

    On another note, this would be, what, the 5th(?) murder at 14th and Girard after installation of a police camera. I wonder if the camera caught the shooting and if anything useful could be used by the footage.

  31. #31

    For the record, Michael Dwayne Parker was a "resident" of the Washington Highlands neighborhood in SE.

  32. Angry Al Gonzales
    #32

    I agree with most posts here - "resident" makes a reader think that the dead man resided at the building where he was shot. When I first read the article, I thought the "rent-a-cop" killed a man in front of the man's residence. Learning that the man lived far away - SE DC, Vienna VA, Bethesda MD, wherever - changes that perception.

    It was just a poor choice of words by the author, & when you consider how much writing these people do everyday, a poor choice of words now & then is understandable. What's not understandable is why so many people "rush to judgment" on a simple choice of words, or, the critique thereof.

    On side notes, yes, let's see what that camera shows. & yes, a few years ago a cabbie refused to take me to Harvard & 14th, where some friends were having a party. I said I'd report him, & he said, OK, I just want to be alive to see my kids tonight, so I said, what the hell, have a good night, I'll walk. Finally, "Q's" post is, as usual, idiotic. What are the "dubious & suspicious term" [I think she means "circumstances"]? There aren't any - as yet. A private cop shot a guy - nobody knows much else. That's not "dubious" nor is it "suspicious".

    A final note - these private cops are nervous after the murder at the Holocaust Museum - be careful, very careful, around them.

  33. #33

    Al, you basically used your comment to take a shot at me. Not that I'm surprised by that, as you troll for my comments just to attack, but I will tell you why I said "dubious & suspicious". I used those terms not only because Jason call this "controversial" and a "mystery shooting", but because "rent-A-cops" aren't necessarily held to the same investigations that MPDC is held to. When a MPDC shoots a civilian/neighbor/citizen/"resident", the public is informed and there is an official investigation that is rendered by Internal Affairs (they have a new name now, but basically you know what I'm talking about). A "rent-A-cop" seems only subject to an external investigation by MPDC, which is may not be given the same IA scrutiny, and probably isn't treated as a homocide either.

    The "idiocy" of my post (your damning words, as even Jaime didn't stoop that low), are based on the fact that not much is known about the shooting other than the victim and the location. The name of the officer hasn't been released, nor the company he/she works for. This is basic stuff that would lead even an "idiot" to check against. When did {officer} last have firearm training? Has {officer} been disciplined? What is {Security Company}'s policy on using lethal force? What is {Security Company}'s policy on officers who use lethal force? Etc.

    Those questions Al, are just the beginning of what should be investigated or asked, in addition to the "circumstances" in which Mr. Parker was killed.

    P.S., it's 14th and Harvard, not "Harvard and 14th". The proper designation for addresses is the numerical street first.

  34. #34

    In the spirit of Jason, I expect someone to come back at me angrily with the obvious grammar mistakes from the above post.

  35. #35

    Q, you're way off base here. Jamie makes sense, and nothing since the initial post has persuaded me otherwise. Nothing personal, I often agree with your comments. On this topic, though, you're flat wrong (and stubborn).

  36. #36

    Truth Hurts, I don't know what you are commenting on. I've long stopped debating the semantics and grammar usage of the word "resident". My last comment was to Al and his incisatory remarks. Did I miss something?

  37. #37

    "But I did find it a little odd for Jamie to say that the word made things look worse for the security guard. "

    When you read a story about a policeman shooting someone in their own home, doesn't it sound pretty bad for the cop? Like when that guy was killed in the halfway house where he lived?

    When I read something about someone getting shot by a cop (fake or otherwise) in their own home, I think, what the hell? How could this possibly have been necessary?

    When I read something about someone random being shot by a cop on a rough stretch of road in Columbia Heights, I think, chances are he was shooting at the cop.

  38. #38

    Thanks Jaime. With your last comment we now know how simple miscommunications can turn into something bigger than it was.

    You thought it was bad that a cop shot a person in their own home who was eronneously portrayed as a resident of the area.

    I thought your response was more towards a lack of sympathy for the decedent who didn't live in the area but was still a DC resident all the same.

    {ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE IN THE COMMENTS. Wild accusations, Semantics and Grammar experts weigh in, insensitive and over-sensitive remarks, etc.}

    Now after taking a deep breath, some 38 comments later, we are back to reasonable dialog.

    1) It's bad for a person to get shot.
    2) It's doubly bad if that person is shot in their own (or alleged) home.
    3) It's bad x3 if that person gets killed.
    4) It's bad x4 if the person who does the shooting is a cop.

    Oh yeah, and misusing the word "resident" comes with stiffer penalties of its own if you are a reporter.

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