More than three weeks after Karon Blake’s death, the D.C. government employee accused of killing him has been identified and charged with second-degree murder while armed.
On Tuesday, Jason Michael Lewis, a D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation employee, turned himself in to authorities. An arrest affidavit obtained by The Informer said Lewis, 41, intended to inflict bodily harm when he allegedly shot and killed Karon, 13, on the morning of Jan. 7.
During Lewis’ arraignment on Tuesday afternoon, his attorney Lee Smith unsuccessfully attempted to secure Lewis’ release pending trial. D.C. Superior Court Magistrate Judge Judith Pipe said the circumstances of Karon’s death significantly overshadowed Lewis’ lack of criminal history and years of service with DPR.
“The incident happened at the threshold of his home,” Pipe said.
“Even if I placed him on home confinement, that’s where the offense occurred,” she added. “[The situation] came to his home, but it’s his reaction that brings us to this courtroom. There’s significant evidence against him which brings us to trial. Given what occurred, I don’t see what conditions could ensure the safety of the community.”
Smith released a statement on Tuesday asserting Lewis’ innocence.
Lewis’ Linkedin page says he has served as a DPR recreation specialist for 16 years. Other cited jobs include outreach coordinator for Backyard Band and co-host of Bounce Beat Radio on GoGoRadioLive.com.
Since Karon’s death, community members from all corners of the District have demanded information about the teen’s alleged killer. During a Jan. 10 community meeting at Turkey Thicket Recreation Center that Ward 5 D.C. Council member Zachary Parker (D) coordinated, people asked why officers didn’t arrest Lewis, who at the time had not been publicly identified.
Over the past several days, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Robert J. Contee III counted among those who discouraged the spread of misinformation about the circumstances of Karon’s death. On Tuesday, Contee credited the grand jury indictment and Lewis’ subsequent arrest to newly acquired video evidence and information from witnesses.
Video footage from the morning of Jan. 7 shows Lewis, who recounted being awakened by an outside noise, standing at the very end of his courtyard at his residence on the 1000 block of Quincy Street in Northeast with a firearm in his hand.
By that time, three young men, captured in video obtained by detectives, hopped out of a Kia Sportage and approached an Audi A8L, a Kia Soul, and a white Cadillac XT6 with a flashlight. Lewis looked into the street from the courtyard and fired a shot at the white Kia Sportage, which, according to the affidavit, had been reported stolen hours prior.
The two young people ran toward the Kia Sportage while Karon ran toward Lewis. By Lewis’ account, and as seen in footage obtained by detectives, Karon pleaded for mercy just seconds before Lewis fired the two fatal shots. .
The District medical examiner later designated Karon’s death as a homicide.
Lewis’ fiance called 911 to report the shooting. When MPD officers appeared on the scene, they saw him performing chest compressions on Karon. They also recovered a Smith & Wesson .40 caliber pistol from the scene and discovered the aforementioned cars with busted windows.
Lewis told officers he had a concealed carry permit and fired two shots. He later went to the station and provided a statement with an attorney present. Over the course of the investigation, detectives spoke to Lewis again, along with other witnesses.
Video footage came from an Amazon/BLINK camera erected outside of Lewis’ home and that of a neighbor on Quincy Street.
When asked about the length of time it took to arrest Lewis, Contee said that getting to that point required approaching the situation scientifically, especially since Lewis claimed he shot Karon in self-defense.
“We wanted to be methodical and correct and not make assumptions,” Contee said. “We wanted to follow the evidence. I’m not going to rush to judgment because of what someone said I should be doing. The investigation took the amount of time it would take so we can get to this point.”