City Desk

Adams Morgan Has a Gang Problem That Doesn’t Exist


Jamal Coates

Jamal Coates once existed. That's something that everyone can agree on.

Everyone can also agree that due to tragic events that unfolded Tuesday afternoon, he no longer exists. Coates died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to cops. Family and friends will want to know why they lost their loved one. But the response authorities provide to that question may land somewhere between murky and obtuse. Because the thing is, one of the gangs rumored to be involved in the violence that, after a funeral, threw U Street into chaos and left Coates dead isn't supposed to exist.

The gang has been largely dispersed. At least, that's according to a campaign season boast by Councilmember Jim Graham. The Ward 1 politician contended that with the help of a police camera at 17th and Euclid streets Northewest, the Metropolitan Police Department had "scattered" what's known as the 1-7 crew. Graham was trying to put constituents at ease about a longstanding, bloody rivalry between the 1-7 Crew  and the G-Rod Crew (14th and Girard streets NW).

It's an aggravating assertion—seeing that the 17th and Euclid area has seen several shootings of late.

One of the shootings happened on June 27. Victor Chigoziri Mba-Jonas was shot on the 2500 block of 17th Street NW. A witness who was with Mba-Jonas when it happened told police the two were walking along 17th when two men hanging out there asked "What's up with ya'll?"

The men followed them and eventually started shooting. The gunfire occurred far enough away from 17th and Euclid not to be captured by the crime camera there. The device did get footage of the alleged shooters before and after the murder. Though the suspects had hung out at 17th and Euclid that night, arrest warrants said nothing about them being gang affiliated.

But court documents attached to a more recent killing definitely mention the supposedly hobbled 1-7. Sean Robinson was torn apart by gunfire on the night of Aug. 11 in the 1600 block of Euclid Street NW.

In  court papers related to the murder investigation, MPD Investigator Thomas Ellingsworth doesn't refer to the 1-7 as a bygone difficulty, but as a current problem. "Investigator Ellingsworth has knowledge that the '1-7 crew' and 'G-Rod Crew' have been and are currently 'beefing' with one another. Additionally, Investigator Ellingsworth was aware that the decedent was affiliated with the '1-7' Crew."

A former 1-7 member, though he was a good distance from Euclid, Coates may have fallen victim to the beef. Brandon Miller has been arrested in connection to his murder. Miller is of the 1200 block of Girard NW. That's not exactly 14th and Girard, but it's close enough to stir suspicions.

Contacted, Graham sticks by the notion that the 1-7 Crew has been pushed out of the area: "I mean, they have been largely dispersed."

"Not every last one of them," he says. "I mean, they could drive back." He says what's left of the crew has been pushed into Northeast. That's achievable, adds Graham, because African American crews like 1-7 aren't as large as Latino gangs like MS-13. "They vary in size but some are about a dozen," he says.

Adams Morgan has an artsy swagger, and gang violence would seem to derail its rep as a good place to indulge in the D.C. version of hipster culture. Maybe that's why Graham has been in denial. One police source tells City Desk that though gentrification and a heavy MPD presence have taken a toll on the 1-7 (there is less blight for them to hide behind), they're still going strong.

Photo courtesy of Bryan Weaver

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  • http://deleted TripLBee

    I used to live at 16th & Euclid. They've been gang bangin on that corner for 30 years.

  • DC_Jenny

    I agree, there has been gang related crime for a while in this neighborhood. I grew up in the area and still live there and I have seen the ups and down of gang violence. And lately, it just seems that a lot of things are stirring up.

    To give some small cred to Mr. Graham's statement, sometimes we experience a low gang violence rate which can span for a months or a few years. This is probably what he is referring too. Sometimes it can feel like things are getting better, but then the new generation starts getting all hyped up on the idea of a gang. It's cycle.

    I think the neighborhood is facing some strange issues right now. The last couple of weeks I have noticed a high crime rate. What is even weirder are all the fires that are poping up. Citypaper should look into that. I would be curious to know what the police think about these fires.

  • Reality Check

    Jim Graham is an idiot and should really shut up about things that he either doesn't know about or is trying to spin to his advantage.

    Is he really this stupid (good going Ward One for re-electing this tool)to think that because some of the 1-7 members have moved to Northeast that they don't come back and hang out?

    I also alway find it interesting that he never really talks much about or seems to blame anything on 14th & Girard...

  • Rick Mangus

    Here are two facts, Jamal Coates was a low life and Jim Graham is a stupid ass!

  • Bryan Weaver

    This is the most maddening argument. And just wrong.

    Sean Robinson murdered on August 11th lived where? Adams Morgan. Jamal Coates murder this week, lived where? Adams Morgan. Dorian Adams, charged with murder in front of HD Cooke in July, lives where? Adams Morgan. Jeremiah Juwley (allegedly) kiddnapped and attempted to murder a Wilson High School teacher where? You get the point. And these things happened just this summer.

    It's not anti-crew prevention that has moved 1-7 out of Adams Morgan. It's apartment costs.

  • SEdcDude

    DAMN....sounds like a job for PEACE-A-HOLICS!!!

    To the tune of $10 milly and you won't get a receipt!!

  • NWguy

    Back in the day the corner of 17th and Euclid and had a lot of crew activity. Especially when Euclid Market was still around. It wasn't until a few years ago that I have seen a huge decrease in loitering on that corner. But, just because you can't see something doesn't mean it's not there. It just moved over a couple blocks, Euclid and mozart, Euclid and ontario, champlain and kalorama etc.

    And while it is true that a lot of 1-7 has been dispersed into NE, I still see the same guys hang out up here every now and then. I also agree that I see a lot more focus on the Adams Morgan crew and not Girard...

  • 2sided

    Rick, you obviously didn't know Jamal. He was not a low life. I live and work in both neighborhoods. I live amongst the Girard crew and work amongst the 1-7. Everyday I have some kind of interaction with kids from both. I have 3 companies, and a non-profit, work crazy hours and spend a great deal of time in and out of local businesses, walking between my home and my office, and basically, being a neighbor. I am a middle-aged white woman, who looks a little like Becky Homecky...... not exactly the type that the local crew makes an effort to get to know. in actuality, i look like more of a target than a neighbor. i find it interesting that someone characterized as a low life would take the time to get to know someone so different from himself, making it a point to say good morning, how are you, ask if i needed help carrying my bag when I was overloaded on my way into work. jamal offered to help my non-profit reach out to the community to identify children who might be in need of screenings, and teen mom's who needing parenting help. Jamal Coates has been such a bright spot in my day/week for the past couple of years. He greets me like a neighbor, politely, with a smile. He gives me updates on how he has been doing with his life..... working towards finding a job, announcing with pride that he had gotten his GED. This is a young man, who I am quite certain, has kept a watchful eye on me in the neighborhood.... making sure that no matter what time of the night I was leaving my office, I would never run into any trouble. He had an infectious smile and a positive nature. Perhaps if you had grown up with some of the same circumstances, you wouldn't have turned into a young man motivated to make a change in your life. It's easy to stay involved in the game.... much harder to pull away. especially when that means you are leaving the only support system you had ever known. jamal may not have lived a perfect life, but as he matured, he was making the effort to make a change.... a difficult choice for some of these kids. and something that not many adults have the courage to do.

    jamal's passing is a huge loss to me, and to the community that would have had the benefit of a man who has seen the worst, and committed himself to change.

    if anyone knows when the service is for jamal, i would really like to attend. can you please post it here?

    thank you.

  • Rick Mangus

    '2sided', save your liberal platitude and bullshit for people who care, I for one don't! Your perfect angle was in a car FULL OF GUNS with other low-life bastards so cty me a river! One less scum on the street!

  • SEdcDude

    @ 2sided

    excuse this wayward GUMP! He detests anything BLACK, FEMALE or HETEROSEXUAL! In fact, "shim's" so blinded with gay rage that he can't comprehend the fact that Jamal was unarmed and THE VICTIM in this senseless shit! "LIBERAL", WOW.........thats like me bad mouthing AFFIRMATIVE ACTION...DUMB ASS LIMP WRIST!

  • 2sided

    thanks SEdcDude...... actually, i'm pretty conservative..... just goes to show that mangey rick is judgmental and way off the mark because he's too short sighted to really look at a situation or a person with any depth to actually see what the true story is. two dimensional thinking is often associated with low IQ..... so is snap judgment and lack of flexibility in thought. now let's see if my "liberal" a$$ (i've never been called liberal in my life....i love this) is open minded enough to have compassion for an intellectually challenged douche lord like rick.

  • Rick Mangus

    '2sided', that typical of people of your ilk and to complament and be beholding to a racist, homophobic, moron like, 'SEdcDude',speaks volumes about your character!

  • Pastor Daryl Bell

    It is a terrible thing when we are so narrow minded that we fail to see the forest for the trees. It takes a village to raise a child, and we might as well stop passing the blame and all try to do our part in the village.