WASHINGTON — A shooting after a Southeast, D.C. block party early Sunday morning killed a 17-year-old father and left 21 others injured.
The shooting happened around 12:30 a.m., near the 3300 block of Dubois Place in Southeast.
D.C. Police said 22 people were shot and that they are currently looking for multiple shooters. One of those victims includes an off-duty 1st District Police officer who was shot and is currently struggling for her life.
Cousin Octavia Brown and grandmother Patrice Brown said the deceased was their loved one, 17-year-old Christopher Brown, a father to a 1-year-old son.
Brown's family says they just want the killings to come to an end.
"You need to stop because you took away something that belonged to me, somebody that I loved so much and somebody dear to me," Grandmother Patrice Brown told WUSA9 in a phone call hours after the shooting.
She described Christopher as a great person and would affectionately call him her "Poppy."
"I know this is not the only child nor will be the last child," she continued. "But they need to stop this. I want everybody to be safe and happy. But this is not the way to be safe. And this is not the way to be happy."
Cousin Octavia Brown said she is heartbroken over Sunday's events. Brown came out to the streets of 33rd and Dubois to mourn, telling WUSA9 that Christopher was a great father to his one-year-old son Elijah.
Artecka Brown, Christopher's mother, agrees. She described her son as an energetic person with an infectious smile and a love for dance, the oldest of five boys.
"He was an innocent king...he just wanted to go attend a neighborhood party," his mother, Artecka Brown, said in a phone call Sunday. "Overall, he is a father, he has a one-year-old son and another on the way."
Artecka said that she got a phone call from a family member just after 1 a.m. about the shooting and saw various posts on social media before being able to meet with a detective.
She said that because there were so many people shot, it took time for a detective to confirm that it was Christopher who was killed.
“Words can’t explain who he was," Artecka Brown said. "Two days ago, I literally said ‘I love you’ and I hung up."
Most of all, she wants her son back.
"A lot of people know him as just a good person... he was a king," she said, choking back tears. "And that was an innocent life taken for no reason."
Ms.Brown expressed frustration at how an event like this cookout on Dubois Place could have taken place in the pandemic.
“Honestly, I don’t understand how my child's life is just gone," she said. "When they see stuff, they should also call the police officers and see if they could bring more police officers to the community to close whatever it is down.”
John Ayala, the grandfather of 11-year-old Davon McNeal, was outside the neighborhood of the shooting early Sunday morning advocating for change and offering words of comfort to Ms. Brown.
Davon was shot and killed in a Southeast neighborhood not far from Dubois Place on the Fourth of July.
"D.C. is under siege," he said about Sunday's shooting.
"I am sad, I am frustrated and it makes me feel like I have to be out here doing more," Ayala continued. "I have to talk to people about what we have to do to stop this, the solutions we have... because if you don't come up with solutions, are you part of the problem? We need to figure it out."
Until then, the family of Christopher and other advocates urge the public to keep speaking out and to not forget about the ones people have lost. ”
"If we don't figure out a solution, we are going to be waking up every morning -- which we have been doing -- and finding out that somebody lost a loved one," Ayala said continued. "We have to stop it now."
D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said Sunday morning that there were hundreds of people at the Saturday night gathering.
He said there were officers on the scene, but apparently not enough to break up the gathering.
“My understanding and this is preliminary and subject to change so take it with a grain of salt please, is that there were officers here. There were not sufficient officers to be able to move a crowd of that size," Newsham said.
The District's current COVID-19 guidelines prohibit more than 50 people to be gathered at one time.
"Preliminarily there were police officers on the scene. I want to confirm that, I want to talk to the management team over here and see if we were doing everything we possibly could," Newsham said. "Because we can't tolerate these types of gatherings in our city during COVID-19, it's just too dangerous."
“I won’t blame the police for allowing this to happen I blame the individuals who made a decision to have an activity in excess of the mayor's directive regarding social distancing and kind of keeping the coronavirus transmission down. The police can only do but so much," ANC Commissioner 7B01 Patricia Howard – Chittams said.
Over 20 responding units arrived at the scene, including paramedics, ambulances and emergency supervisors.
As of Sunday, no arrests have been made in connection with the shooting. D.C. police are actively investigating and said they are looking for multiple shooters.