At a news conference Monday, the chief said Raymond Spencer had six firearms in the apartment on Van Ness Street and that three were fully automatic rifles. He said police found thousands more ammunition in another residence in Fairfax, Va.
Authorities said they still have not found any connection Spencer, 23, had to Edmund Burke School or a motive for the shooting that injured four people, including a 12-year-old. Contee and Mayor Muriel E. Boswer (D) gathered with other government officials Monday to discuss the shooting that sent panic through the neighborhood along Connecticut Avenue, which was closed Friday night along with Burke School.
Authorities at the news conference also announced the creation of a new violent crime enforcement team consisting of federal law enforcement agencies to target crime in specific areas where shootings are most prevalent.
Contee noted that police on Friday and Saturday responded to a total of 10 shooting episodes with 15 victims, including a man in a wheelchair who was shot during a fight, a construction worker who directed the traffic, who was shot by a person on a bicycle, who was sad. with delays, and a man fatally shot and stabbed during an altercation at a birthday party.
The police chief has often said that people react differently to crime depending on their “proximity to the pain.” On Monday, Contee said of the recent crime: “This should be painful for all of us.”
Homicide, which has had an upward trend over the past four years, has fallen by 10 percent from year to date.
The hours of a terrible shutdown at Edmund Burke school
The shooting in Van Ness broke out when classes were fired at Edmund Burke School on Van Ness Street near Connecticut Avenue. Police said Spencer opened fire from a fifth-floor home on AVA Van Ness apartments. Bullets hit vehicles and smashed a glass walkway connecting two school buildings, crashing the school and surrounding neighborhood into a barrier.
Four people were injured, including a woman waiting to pick up a student, a security guard and a 12-year-old girl. Police said the bullets flew nearly 1.5km and triggered terror along one of the district’s busiest and most famous traffic arteries.
Authorities said they were still trying to establish a motive. Spencer of Fairfax County shot himself dead when police broke open his door, authorities said, leaving a sparsely furnished room that police described as a “sniper’s nest” filled with firearms, ammunition and a stand for mounting a rifle . Police said they believe Spencer had searched Wikipedia pages about the recent attack on the New York City subway and a school shooting in Florida, and edited the Wikipedia page for Edmund Burke School to document his own shooting.
Residents throughout the city are on edge. A recent poll by The Washington Post showed that three out of 10 residents in the district do not feel safe in their neighborhood. Crime concerns come as Bowser seeks re-election and a June 21 primary election is approaching.
Suspected of shooting that wounded 4 found dead, officials say
On Saturday, the day after the sniper attack, Bowser came under criticism from challengers facing a candidate forum. One of her challengers, Councilman Robert C. White Jr. (D-At Large), said his proposal to guarantee a job to all residents of the district would “drive the violence down.”
Bowser has focused on alternative justice programs, but has also called on the Council to approve a budget to hire 347 more officers in the coming financial year. She wants to start a path towards building a force now manned with a low level of two decades of up to 4,000 officers.
The DC Council’s public safety committee has voted to approve the mayor’s request for the 347 additional officers, but most lawmakers have not expressed their support for expanding the department beyond the next fiscal year. Bowser’s proposal has met with opposition from some activists, amid calls to downsize the size of the police department following the racial justice protests that followed the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
The mayor said in a letter to residents after the sniper attack: “Today has been a heartbreaking day for our community.… This epidemic of gun violence in our country, the easy access to firearms – it must stop.”