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'He was just getting a phone charger' | 11-year-old boy killed after being struck in the head by a bullet in DC

Davon McNeal was hit by a stray bullet while grabbing a phone charger before heading to a community cookout on the Fourth of July.

WASHINGTON — Davon McNeal’s grandfather says the boy was running into a building in Southeast D.C. Saturday night to grab a phone charger on the way to a community cookout.

That’s when he said gunshots rang out, and his 11-year-old grandson fell to the ground.

The shooting happened in the 1400 block of Ceder Street SE around 9:20 p.m. and the boy was hit after a group of five fired shots in his direction, according to D.C. police.

He was pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital, police said.

Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham was on scene and answered questions via Periscope on the Metropolitan Police Department's Twitter page. The reason for the shooting is not known. It is also not known if there are suspects that police have identified for this shooting. 

Davon was a sixth-grade student at Kramer Middle School in D.C. Public Schools system, the District confirmed. 

DCPS said that McNeal was a funny and outgoing child.

Davon's grandfather, John Ayala, is the chief of police for Archangel Special Police, who help provide mobile control and security services around the DMV. 

He spoke to WUSA9 about the horrifying moment he discovered Davon was killed, saying that Davon was getting out of a car to grab a charger when the shots were fired.

"He was just getting out of a car to go get a charger to charge his phone while he was going to a cookout, that's it," Ayala said. "And when he stepped out the car, the shots rang, and he fell to the ground. The mother thought that he was ducking to not get hit and came to find out he had got shot."

Credit: Courtesy of: John Ayala
Grandfather John Ayala described Davon as an intelligent kid who loved the community and had big dreams of going to the NFL.

Ayala said that Davon's mother is highly involved in the community, constantly working with D.C. City Council and activism groups to help end violence. She organizes donations, hosts events, and has cookouts to spread the word in the community against the very street violence that impacted Davon.

A D.C. official did confirm that Crystal McNeal is a violence interrupter for the District.

"(Her) 11-year-old son is right on the side seeing that stuff, getting that role model, you know, and that was what we need in the Black community," Ayala said, describing the close relationship between Davon and his mom.

Ayala described his grandson as an outgoing kid who loved playing sports, especially football. He was an active participant in a variety of youth leagues and had big dreams of one day making it to the NFL. 

Credit: Courtesy: John Ayala
Davon McNeal loved playing football and had big dreams of going to the NFL.

"His dream was to get into the NFL, because being a VIP on his team, and knowing that he likes that sport, this is what he was going to. So, this is another kid that's not out there, causing problems, and not doing anything negative," Ayala said. "He got good grades in school, he is doing sports, and all of a sudden he tragically shot down in a community where he should not have been shot.”

But his grandfather said Davon was just as moved by that community outreach his mom participated in, by her side and being exposed to activism at an early age.

 "He is not just going out playing sports, but he was at his mother’s side trying to do something positive in the community. So you got a woman that (is) doing something positive every day, getting donations, which she could be out doing anything else and she's fighting against violence, and then it hits home when her own son is shot and killed. And again, it wasn't for him. He just was at the wrong place at the wrong time, but it's still a tragedy," Ayala said.

Credit: Courtesy: John Ayala
Davon McNeal loved playing football and had big dreams of going to the NFL.

Fighting for justice, not just for Davon, but to all those who lose their lives to gun violence is important to Ayala. He said he is just going to continuing speaking out and wants action.

"I have to keep pushing the message on. I have to talk to people. I have to do this every day as a Guardian Angel, as a Black man, and also being part of my ARC Angels special police in D.C.," he said.

He said his grandson isn't the first child in D.C. to be shot and killed by being at the wrong place at the wrong time. And he said he won't be the last.

"It's not gonna stop with him (Davon)," he said. "There's going be another young kid that's going be shot and killed if we don't get out here and try to put a dent in it, or stop it completely."

"He was with his mother, going to do a positive cookout for the community. And just in a matter of seconds, stepping out to get the charger, he was shot," Ayala added.

Credit: Courtesy: John Ayala
"Well, he is an outgoing kid so anything he wants to do. He goes for it, he, he loved the community."

McNeal is not the only child to die from gun violence in D.C. in 2020.

Malachi Lukes, 13, was fatally shot in Northeast in March and four men have been arrested as suspects in his death.

Wilfredo Torres, 17, and Jamie Zelaya, 16, were shot and killed in the Brightwood neighborhood of Northwest in February. 

Homicides in the District are up 13% this year compared to the numbers seen in 2019, according to records kept by D.C. government data. 

Now, D.C. police are offering an award of up to $25,000 to anyone who can provide information that leads to the arrest of the person responsible for shooting McNeal. On Friday night, Mayor Muriel Bowser also tweeted her condolences to the family of McNeal, urging the public for their help.

Anyone with information about the case is urged to call the police at 202-727-9099. Additionally, anonymous information may be submitted to the department’s text tip line by sending a text message to 50411. 

Credit: Courtesy: John Ayala
Davon McNeal loved playing football and had big dreams of going to the NFL.

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