An annual Southeast, D.C. neighborhood event filled with dancing, children activities, music and food was disrupted Sept. 17 after gunshots were fired and left two people dead and several others injured.
The chaos began around 8:20 p.m. when multiple gunshots occurred on the 2600 block of Birney Place SE and brought the community party, known as Dorsey Day, to an alarming end. The event is typically thrown hosted every year to honor a resident who provided support to the neighborhood.
The two victims Scorpio-Rodney Alonzo Phillips, 31 (left), and Zoruan Otto Harris, 18 (right), were pronounced dead at the scene.
According to police reports, officials found two men who had been injured by gunfire. D.C. Fire and EMS personnel also responded to the incident. The two victims Scorpio-Rodney Alonzo Phillips, 31, and Zoruan Otto Harris, 18, were pronounced dead at the scene.
According to news reports, Harris had recently graduated from National Collegiate Preparatory and was supposed to begin college in January. Since his death, two GoFundMe pages were set up to raise money for Harris’ 1-year-old son.
Metropolitan Police Department Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham said the shooting may have been the result of a dispute.
At least six other attendees were injured including a young boy and two women. These victims were taken to area hospitals by D.C. Fire and EMS.
Members of the community like, Ben Forman, program consultant at Teens Run DC, a Southeast based running group that has a mentoring initiative to teach life skills to the youth, told the AFRO Sept. 19 that shootings in Southeast, D.C. are common and happen all the time just within blocks of the organization’s offices.
“People skills that are good for running are good for life,” Forman said who founded the group seven years ago to provide mentorship for D.C. youngsters, especially those stricken by poverty and crime ridden neighborhoods through the exercise of physical activity. “Distance running is a metaphor for life,” he explained that participating in lengthy race takes patience and perseverance just like life “it’s not a sprint.”
The organization works with multiple local schools during the week and meets every Saturday for practice.
“If parents are worried about putting food on the table and paying rent, they may not have time to do all of that,” Forman said. He said Teens Run DC strives to create an inclusive community for everyone and make all members feel welcome by making connections with the kids and building relationships.
“Some of the crime we see….it comes from survival and just trying to get by,” Forman said. He said the program offers an alternative to participating in illegal activity or turning to violence or gangs to cope with disadvantages.
Forman said children are often drawn to gangs because they are longing for a sense of family and fellowship, but Teens Run DC can give youth a sense of hope while also teaching young people the skills of commitment, responsibility and effort.
Monthly races for this season will begin on Oct. 1 at Anacostia Park.