Homicide Victim

Andrew McPhatter was fatally shot in Southeast D.C. on March 1. (Courtesy Photo)

A recent wave of violence in Southeast, D.C. left one man dead after six shootings took place in a span of seven days. Six people were shot along Wheeler Road and one was murdered between Feb. 23 and March 1 as D.C. police roll out initiatives to keep illegal guns off the streets.

On Feb. 23 four people were shot in three separate incidents within two hours on Wheeler Road. On Feb. 27, a woman was struck by gunfire in another Wheeler Road shooting. “We should not be losing our young men to gun violence in our city,” Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham said March 6 at a community meeting at Eagle Academy Public Charter School. “Every single time that we have a young man that’s killed in Washington, D.C. I see their picture and every single time I see that picture a piece of my heart chips away.”

The gunfire ended with the fatal shooting of Andrew McPhatter, 28, on March 1. According to police, McPhatter was shot and wounded in the 3500 block of Wheeler Road, SE around 10:50 a.m. Police said they were in the Congress Heights neighborhood when they heard the sound of several gunshots.

Authorities searched the area and found a Buick GS 350 stopped in the middle of the road. Inside of the vehicle was McPhatter siting in the front passenger seat bleeding and suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, police said. McPhatter was transported to a local hospital in critical condition. He died on March 5.

Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Karimah Bilal told the AFRO on March 6 that no arrests have been made and there is no further information in the case. However, law enforcement officials said 27 illegal firearms were removed from District streets the week between Feb. 27 and March 6.

ANC Commissioner for Ward 8B02 Paul Trantham told the AFRO March 7 that gun recovery isn’t enough to end violence in Southeast D.C. “We are witnessing gun violence day and night,” Trantham said. “They are saying they are recovering guns, but they aren’t saying where they coming from and how these kids are getting them.”

Trantham also said police understaffing is another issue the city is dealing with. According to Trantham, the police force, currently staffed with about 3,700 officers, needs to increase to 4,200.

He asked Mayor Muriel Bowser to hire more patrollers and place additional plain clothed officers in high crime areas, and that she didn’t fulfill his request. “I feel as though the city council and mayor are letting citizens down,” said Trantham. He said the mayor is “numb” to the violence in ward 7 and ward 8, and not facing the reality of the brutality in the area.

A response to Trantham’s accusation was not received from the mayor’s office before press time.

In January, Council member Vincent Gray introduced a bill to increase the number of police officers and increase retention bonuses until the force’s population reached Gray’s goal of 4,200. The “Force of 4,200” bill has not passed.