More than a month after three people lost their lives in a hail of bullets, a joint investigation by local and federal law enforcement agencies culminated in the arrests of two men, one of whom officers found with a firearm.
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), with the help of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI’s Washington field office, arrested Kamar Queen and Erwin DuBose Jr. on Wednesday night for their alleged involvement in the triple murder.
Both men have been charged with premeditated first-degree murder while armed.
In his statement in front of MPD’s Fourth District Station on Thursday, Chief Robert J. Contee III touted community and law enforcement synergy as a key element in this development.
“This is good police work and community collaboration and an example of how effective we are when we work together to bring in offenders,” Contee said. “Law enforcement cannot close these cases alone. Our community is key [and] we are still investigating this matter and more arrests are probable.”
On the evening of Sept. 4, McQueen, DuBose and at least one other person hopped out of a car and opened fire on a crowd of people congregating on Longfellow Street, authorities said.
Donnetta Dyson, Keenan Braxton and Johnny Joyner were pronounced dead at the scene, and three others were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.
The deaths sparked outrage and discussions on social media, at city hall and throughout the District about how to further include Kennedy Street, and other parts of uptown, in the city’s plans for curbing gun violence.
Council member Janeese Lewis George (D-Ward 4) wrote a letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) requesting the expansion of Building Blocks to the Kennedy Street corridor. She and others espoused the need for violence prevention resources during a peace walk last month.
Building Blocks, launched earlier this year amid an increase in homicides, brings together various District agencies to address gun violence from a public health standpoint.
If Bowser follows through, the unifying violence prevention force will buttress efforts by the Office of the Neighborhood Safety & Engagement (ONSE) to quell violence and introduce Kennedy Street’s most at-risk residents to personal development and employment opportunities.
Immediately after the September 4 shooting, ONSE, in collaboration with 15 agencies, communicated with grieving family members and, to a certain degree, helped them make funeral arrangements.
Violence interrupters also monitored social media and leveraged their rapport with at-risk community members to prevent retaliation.
Leadership within ONSE has also gelled together plans to increase the enrollment of Ward 4 residents in the Pathways Program that, for years, has connected cohorts of young adults to personal and workforce development opportunities.
As of Thursday, MPD has recorded 168 homicides so far this year, up nearly 20% from the same point last year.
The phenomenon has revealed schisms among residents and elected officials about how to tackle violence. While some prioritize prevention, resources, and opportunities, there have been just as many calls for boosting police presence in communities.
Melvin Stackhouse, a Ward 7 resident and cousin of Joyner, had more of a nuanced perspective. He told The Informer that, in regard to his cousin’s death, MPD could’ve done more to stop the assailants.
For Stackhouse, the ideal solution for gun violence involves all government agencies and residents aggressively addressing the strife of young people.
In his work with the violence prevention movement No Slide Zone, Stackhouse recounted meeting young people from various parts of the District dealing with trauma and low self-esteem that often manifests in acts of violence.
“Some of these people have dreams to make it out, but to thrive in their community, watch their kids grow up, and not worry about making it back home,” he said. “Why do they have to be validated to be successful? Why can’t they just be themselves? Everyone doesn’t have self-love and self-respect due to what they’ve been through. They just want to be loved.”