City Desk

Neighborhood Responds to Death Outside DC9

The flyer on the front door at DC9 still reads “Roof Deck Open Tonight,” but in light of the death of 27-year-old Ali Ahmed Muhammed early Friday morning outside of the club, that hardly seems likely. And while the truth of what happened is still unclear, the incident is having an effect on the surrounding community.

Derge Zewdie, owner of the Habesha Market & Carry-Out across the street from the club on 9th Street NW just south of U Street. Zewdie says that he already deals with issues of homelessness and drug use outside of his business, and is concerned that this most recent incident will only worsen people’s perceptions of the area.

“The economy is already bad enough,” Zewdie said. “Things like this can be dangerous for business.”

Still, Zwedie, who also owns a photography studio on 9th Street, doesn’t feel that Friday morning's events are emblematic of the larger U Street corridor. While he said that Muhammed’s death is tragic, he hopes that it will not deter people from visiting the area.

“Things can happen anywhere. Things can happen in front of your house. If this happened at your front door, are you not going to go home?”

Michelle Witte, who lives less than a block from the indie venue, said she was shocked to hear the news. For her, the incident hit especially close to home because she regularly visits DC9 and is close with a number of the club's employees.

“It’s a shame," she said. "I’m just waiting to hear more, to find out if those guys I’m friends with were really involved with beating somebody to death."

Beletesh Ogbe has mixed feelings about DC9. For the past 11 years she has owned Serv-U-Liquors, a liquor store directly across the street from the club. Since DC9 opened in 2004, she's appreciated the extra customers that concerts bring in, but isn’t always the biggest fan of the crowds they attract.

“They come to buy cigarettes and beer, and I always ask where they’re from,” Ogbe explained. “Because lots of them, they look like junk people. They look like homeless people. Then they tell me they’re here for a show. They bring in different kinds of people from all over and sometimes they cause problems.”

Her reservations about the patrons aside, Ogbe had no complaints about DC9 itself. She feels that the two businesses have helped each other over the years, and says that DC9 employees that visit her store have always been friendly.

“They are very good neighbors, and I feel sorry this happened to them,” she said. “It’s very tragic.”

All of this comes in the wake of another distressing act of violence, the shooting death of 21-year-old Jamal Coates on Sept. 28 at the corner of 13th and U streets NW. As the details of what happened Friday morning on 9th Street become more clear, the feeling in the neighborhood is that this was one more needless death borne out of alcohol and anger in an area that has seen too much of that already.

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  • DCAV8R

    "They look like homeless people"-- why? Because they aren't Ethiopian looking (as Etete is next door) or because they allow a place for those who don't fit with the "in" crowds look? DC9 has been a place for all people, of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, gay, strait, preppy, nerds and geeks a place to feel welcome. They offer a place for hopeful bands to play to the crowds that love them--- I understand why the Chief had to close them down, but I am confident, that the truth will come out, and those of us that have supported them, will get the chance to patronize their establishment again soon.

  • LCV42

    DCAV8R- You claim to "understand why the Chief had to close them down, but I am confident, that the truth will come out", if so, then please enlighten everyone as to why you are so confident that the "truth" will come out. You cannot make a baseless claim that the truth will come out without offering substantive evidence. Your post makes it seem like you either work there or are close to someone that works there. I think it is safe to say that most people, including myself, do not care one bit that DC9 is "a place for all people" to the "hopeful bands" they love. I say this because a human being was allegedly KILLED by direct actions of DC9 staff. It seems the majority of bouncers today are arrogant, rude, and reckless. They become bouncers to fight(literally) there severe insecurities. The owner and others that beat this man to death will be punished; one recent trial of a man convicted of second degree murder got 25 years. You can't claim "self defense" when its five vs. one. As for DC9, thats finished, how many people do you know that want to worry about being beaten to death by "patronizing" a club? The place will most likely have to be sold so it may be something else, but not DC9 again.

  • dcnative

    LCV42, interesting you chastise one for making baseless claims while you have done exactly that. There is no proof a beating occurred. The medical examiner stated earlier there is no evidence of a homicide. Since you have clearly never been to DC9 or read many accounts you do not know these were not 'bouncers', the club does not employ bouncers.
    Take your own advice, stop jumping to conclusions.

  • Imsure

    I live in the area and go to DC 9 all the time. The staff is super friendly. There is no way they beat someone to death. They are bouncers and deal with drunk morons all the time. I don't think we know who the "victim" in this case is yet.

  • suspect

    The victim died in police custody. Why didn't he receive EMS attention on scene if he was so badly injured? I haven't seen any reporting on this. I can't help but be reminded of Ronnie White being murdered in PG County while in police custody or those DC cops who shot and killed DeOnte Rawlings for stealing a bike. I would hate to connect innocent police to these murders, but department integrity seems nonexistent.

  • Andrew

    I agree with DCAV89: DC9 is a place where anyone can go and not feel judged. And it does attract more creative, open-minded people as a result -- people that might not fit in with societies standards of dress but who are by no means "junk people" as Ms. Ogbe claims.

    And as for the staff -- bouncers included -- I agree that bouncers are increasingly arrogant in this country (I hate them from NYC) but THIS IS NOT THE CASE with DC9. The staff are super friendly and really down to earth. I've made friends with several of them over the course of more than three years now (including with three of the people in this incident) and I'm at a loss for words.

    But if you don't know DC9 then you shouldn't talk about how you want it closed down or how arrogant people are there. This really is a tragedy and I hope our city holds off judging the situation until all the facts are in.

  • NWDC Resident

    This is a sad situation, but I'm a little shocked by some of the reactions I've heard. I can't think of any bar in the country where you could throw bricks through the front window and not get your ass beat. I'm sorry for his family, but he made a huge mistake ... and it's amazing to me that anyone is surprised by the employees' reaction. The Post even discusses whether it was a hate crime, as if they can't get why throwing bricks through a bar window is not cool.

    And no, I'm not a friend or family member of any of any of the employees.

  • Rick Mangus

    I smell a cover-up here!

  • Steve

    The guy who died might have done something idiotic and harmful, but if witnesses say that he was beaten hard by DC9's staff and the guy died, it seems like the death had to do with the DC9 staff's beating. I do smell something fishy and am shocked by DC9's owners and they way talked about the incident as written up in the Washington Post. This is unnerving and disgusting and I'm certainly not going to DC9 because they beat this guy up. SHAME ON DC9!

  • getalawyerandstfu

    Everyone keeps saying the staff are too nice or hipsters (whatever that means) to beat someone to death. Judging from what I have seen online from people that are directly related to that scene have written, I personally think they are all guilty. Just an opinion and judging from the sloppy incongruent stories coming from these people about what happened all the way to the crass excuses for beating him. They say that they didn't beat him and they haplessly are also trying to justify that he deserved the beatdown all the way to an employee proclaiming as an official statement that he had a "previous condition". A person is dead here folks. "Stars and Bars Forever"? more like stars behind bars forever. Classless flunkies.

  • kisha

    DC9 will be closed for ever so do other night clubs !!!!

  • yoman

    oh come on, really people!! lots of us got piss ass drunk there lots of times and nothing bad has happen.. some guy gets mad at dc9 and keeps showing them he's mad by trying to trash the place but i know they wouldn't kill the guy but i would of kick his ass..

  • Tebron

    It is really savage !!

  • Michael

    ye it is really savage beating a drunk because he broke a window doesn't give any sense.This guy was not in his right mind and I also believe that the dc9 workers also were not in there right mind.The will gate what they deserve.......

  • Californian

    Property damage is a serious loss for small business owners anywhere in this economy, I got bit up by a Jazz club owner just for riding my bicycle infront of his night club located in a ghetto neighborhood of San Francisco where the city is paying millions of dollars to club owners to open night clubs and redevelop the area to attract limo riding tourists ,apparently bycycle riding Ethiopian immigrants are not needed in the area and if they show up they get bit up. It was his word that had value so the police were in his favor and I ended up loosing the fight.Beware Night clubs can be dangerous full of guns , fights and sometimes death

  • Justice4DCTaxpayers 2

    You would think a death of 1 by 5 vicious thugs would be a easy case for 1st degree murder but certainly 2nd degree for this case. But, no some idolize sick ass church molesters (sexual and financial) operating churches faking to be preachers, the same is obvious with these club owners and celebrities.
    Be careful how you spend your money at FAT FILTHY CHURCHES AND NITE CLUBS in this might get better treatment in college obtaining an education with your money.
    Again, the wrong kind of person was killed and the right connections might set these 5 free to commit murders at their will.

  • M.M.

    I go to quite a few shows at DC9. I have a good job in the city and I enjoy the music. I see a lot of other people there who look pretty much like me each time I go. I don't know where all these "junk people" are or if somebody just has a problem with hipster kids (who are often white by the way) but the only "junk" I see in that area are the junkies and jerks hanging around on the street, causing trouble and acting like they're looking to rob people. This jerk who threw a brick through the window sounds like a classic example of that type. For somebody to act that way they'd have to be deranged or high on something. I hope DC9 is able to reopen and that Cathy Lanier (who I've just completely lost all respect for) learns to STFU. It really doesn't make me feel comfortable in a city where the police chief makes such a stupid public rush to justice against a place that hasn't had a lot of complaints and frankly is one of the nicer businesses on that crappy block.

  • Butcher

    Common people listen to yourself,the bigger pictur here is a young man has lost his life because bouncy of cowards decided to take justice in their hands instead of calling police. Who cares about dc9 club ?it's employees and owner killers any ways so it should be shut down.

  • Native JD

    Beletesh Ogbe - Where are you from again? Not from around these parts? Well I don't like the looks of you either ma' skater shoes, tshirt and jeans is pretty common round here.

  • dashal bone


  • Crazy Thug Employees

    It's bad enough they killed someone, and their GAY too?

    Throw them in jail and swallow (how ironic) the key!

  • Mack

    They kill him half block away from the club is anyone have ever seen a club bouncer or employee chase someone and bite him to death? Come on guys this is a murder those people here who are saying this guys are nice stuf like that if this guy is there family member I know they don't say that. Be human guys