Months after the Juneteenth shooting death of Brookland Middle School student Chase Poole, students, teachers and staff at the Northeast-based public school are once again reeling from the loss of one of their own.
Karon Blake, a 13-year-old student who many describe as a lighthearted, charismatic being with a love for fashion, was killed during the early morning hours of Saturday, when a District resident allegedly shot him on the 1000 block of Quincy Street NE.
The alleged shooter, who called police after shooting Karon and performed CPR, approached Karon believing that the teenager was tampering with vehicles in the neighborhood.
In the hours and days since Karon’s death, residents and social justice advocates have stormed social media to question what would make the unknown resident take matters into their own hands.
One community member, who requested anonymity, said that the Metropolitan Police Department’s (MPD) hesitance to release the name of Karon’s alleged shooter will worsen matters for those who knew him.
“Every day this goes by [without the shooter identified], it leaves the wound open,” the community member said. “Just put it out there and let’s deal with any fallout, if any. I want the shooter to reflect on this. What prompted them in that moment to arm themselves and go outside to handle what sounds like an alleged illegal activity? The speculation will fuel the fire. This has gone beyond D.C. now. It’s viral.”
In the summer of 2021, Karon was listed as critically missing. MPD later said he had been found safe and sound.
Since Karon’s death, local organizations including Black-led abolitionist hub Harriet’s Dreams, Ward 5 Mutual Aid and DC Safety Squad have collaborated to press for transparency and accountability in the investigation of Karon’s death. They’re also calling for members of the public to submit camera footage, if any, from the morning of Jan. 7.
On Sunday evening, an MPD spokesperson said the resident alleged to have killed Karon has yet to be charged. The department continues to work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Columbia to determine criminal liability.
Karon’s death counts as the District’s third homicide in the new year. It follows that of 33-year-old Benjie Byers, who was shot and killed on Georgia Avenue on Jan. 4, and 17-year-old Martez Toney who died in a similar fashion on Alabama Avenue on Jan. 3.
Throughout the weekend, District officers responded to the scene of another murder in Navy Yard in Southeast and the 2000 block of Gallaudet Street in Northeast that claimed the life of Terry Clark, 20, and Jasmine “Star” Mack, 36, respectively.
The District wrapped up 2022 with 203 homicides. In response, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) sent a letter to the D.C. Council on Jan. 4 declaring her veto of the unanimously passed Revised Criminal Code Act.
She expressed concern about provisions that significantly lower penalties for home invasions and carjackings and car break-ins, and forbid charging convicted felons with unauthorized firearm possession. Bowser also said that elements of RCCA, including the expansion of jury trials to misdemeanors, could be deliberated on as standalone bills.
Despite Bowser’s objection, D.C. Councilmember Zachary Parker (D-Ward 5) said he plans to vote to override the mayor’s veto in the coming weeks. Since Karon’s death, Parker has been in constant contact with community members in Brookland, as well as Karon’s grandmother and MPD Fifth District Commander Sylvan Altieri.
Parker has also continued his call for MPD to release the name of Karon’s alleged killer and take the appropriate action against them. He said that, even with concerns about break-ins and carjackings, the resident who shot Karon should’ve called 911 instead of taking action.
“This is a tragedy that shouldn’t have happened,” Parker said. “We need to reflect on why young people are breaking into cars. My sympathy goes to Karon’s family and the community that’s torn. What needs to be consistent is that the resident [who shot and killed Karon Blake] needs to be held accountable.”