Thirty minutes before a teen was fatally struck by a stray bullet while driving through Northeast, a neighbor made a 911 call warning police of a gunman attempting to fire a gun at a group of young men just feet from where the teen would later be hit.
Driving her nephew home from her sister’s wedding rehearsal, 17-year-old Jamahri Sydnor found herself in the middle of a shootout on Thursday, Aug. 10, at the intersection of Saratoga and Montana avenues.
Just minutes before, police responded to a call reporting a gunman in the vicinity of 14th Street and Montana Avenue, where according to notes, nothing was found.
Family and friends within the Brookland Manor community met Thursday evening near the site of the shooting to hold a candlelight vigil for the teen many recall as energetic with a promising future, and to seek justice for the “angel” who perished as the unintended target of gun violence.
But some residents attended seeking healing for their violence-plagued community.
Brenda Morning, 63, attended the vigil hoping to send a message to city officials that her neighborhood took note of such tragedies and wanted safer streets.
“We have repeat shootings,” Morning said.
She also said the neighborhood sees heavy foot traffic from loitering residents that seem to be engaging in drug deals.
“I love where I live and I am not moving,” Morning said, adding that she wants city officials to address crime in her neighborhood.
Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie said he shares the concerns regarding safety with his residents.
“I share your fears that our children can’t be safe being children here in [D.C.],” McDuffie said. “Our current circumstance is unacceptable and I will do everything in my power to make sure the people responsible for the [Jamahri’s death] are brought to justice.”
He said the Brentwood/Montana area is “known to law enforcement” and he pushed for it to be included in the Metropolitan Police Department’s (MPD) summer crime initiative that targets high-crime areas.
In 2016, McDuffie also worked with the council to fund the NEAR Act, which he drafted to adopt a public health approach to crime prevention that would include collaboration between law enforcement, workforce development and social service agencies to address “the root causes of crime.”
“Despite these efforts, it is obvious that more has to be done to disrupt the culture of gun violence that exists in the District and particularly in those high crime neighborhoods,” McDuffie said. “I firmly believe that we must better engage the residents in the impacted communities to actively participate in the solution.”
According to police, resources in the area have primarily been focused on violent crime patterns. In the Fifth District, resources have been allocated from various patrol services, including the citywide Narcotics and Special Investigations Division.
“These efforts produced a reduction in overall violent crime of 36 percent in the Fifth District,” said an MPD representative, adding that the department will continue to build a bond with the community to “pursue additional reductions.”