“A psychopath walked to a playground and fired a weapon hitting two people including a precious child”

DCHA Statement on Park Morton shooting:

“DCHA owns and manages housing for low-income families. We’ve invested millions of dollars in enhancements, such as lighting and fences. In addition, we have invested in an infrastructure of more than 1,200 cameras across the city designed to supplement law enforcement’s efforts to investigate crimes when they occur. At the time of the shooting the onsite camera equipment was operating but the recording equipment was engaged in a software maintenance routine so the footage caught on camera was not recorded.

A psychopath walked to a playground and fired a weapon hitting two people, including a precious child, and countless others were traumatized. The perpetrator should be tracked down and jailed for a long time. We know MPD is doing their part with the criminal investigation and we’re doing what we can to assist them. Tragically, horrific reports like this are made in communities too often.”

-Richard White, Director of Public Affairs & Communications for DC Housing Authority”

54 Comment

  • As a society, we really need to re-think our use of housing projects. One of the people shot was already a bad guy (had been in jail for about two years for fatally shooting someone in the head, but was let go due to “witness issues”). Between this, the cat kicker in the Brooklyn projects, and a LONG list of other brutality cases- some of which are close to home at Potomac Gardens- I’m sick and tired of supporting projects with my taxpayer money, only to have their inhabitants abuse animals (see Paterson, NJ school children killing cat with bricks) or other innocent people. And no, I’m not saying everyone is bad, but the bad element seems to thrive in these places, while the others look the other way. And as for the mother of the child who told the Post, ‘They don’t care about us here.’ You’re right- government agencies are not benevolent fathers, holding your hand through life and caring about your safety and well-being. Their failure to have working cameras for several weeks at this crime-ridden project proves that.

    • I’m sorry but if you’ve been convicted of a crime then the taxpayers are under no obligation to provide you housing. The community should only support those that support it back.

    • Plenty of people who own homes and get the mortgage interest tax deduction kill people and abuse animals. We punish them through the legal system; it makes no sense to cancel the tax deduction because some people who benefit from it commit crimes. That would hurt so many law-abiding people who happen to want to own a home. Same goes for public housing. The solution is the criminal justice system, not housing finance.

      By the way, the mortgage interest deduction costs the federal government $70 billion a year, most of which goes to quite wealthy people. We only spend $6.3 billion for public housing.

      • I’m ok with homeowners being able to keep some of their own money. After all, it is the “wealthy” (whatever that is- probably what I would define as middle class) that puts money into the system. Public housing is full of wards of the state that are draining the system, not contributing to it (between welfare, housing subsidies, jail time, policing, etc…). If you’re on the dole, beggars can’t be choosers.

        • The mortgage interest deduction doesn’t help all wealthy folks equally though–it benefits those who own instead of rent, who buy at the very top of their budgets, and who move or refinance fairly frequently. If your goal is to reward the rich, lower their tax brackets.

          Also, lots of people who live in public housing work and pay taxes. If their wages were higher they would pay more taxes and might have a chance of moving to unsubsidized housing.

          I want the person who did this shooting to be caught and go to jail. I wouldn’t want him to live in public housing–and with existing policies, he won’t be able to. But we don’t know if he or the adult victim actually live in public housing. The only person involved in this shooting who would definitely be affected by your idea to get rid of housing projects is a 6 year old.

        • I could imagine a policy that said anyone convicted of a crime loses all rights to all government subsidies. Whether that would be wise public policy is not clear. Apart from the justice or fairness argument that criminals should not get favors from the government, cutting off all subsidies to convicts might make them even more likely to resort to crime in the future. It’s a hard call.

          But in any case, let’s not be confused about the mortgage interest tax deduction subsidy. It is a *subsidy*, and that fact cannot be disguised by describing it as letting homeowners keep their on money (implying that because they are homeowners they somehow are more entitled to other people’s money than nonhomeowners?). The tax credit is one of the largest subsidies in the entire federal budget and costs more than the entire food stamp program (which, you know, keeps people from starving to death). Everyone else’s taxes, (i.e., those of renters and businesses) are higher than they otherwise would be, and the government increases the public debt more than it otherwise would, to reduce the net cost of a mortgage for homeowners.

          • This goes back to a thread I commented on some time ago. The collateral consequences for for criminal convictions are staggering, and part of the reason is episodes like this. Should someone convicted of marijuana possession lose all right to government subsidies? In some states, driving without eyeglasses, or public urination, is a CRIME, for which you lose access to public housing. How about only losing public benefits for a specific set of enumerated violent crimes. I would argue that taking away assistance from those convicted of petty crimes increases violent crimes such as robberies. The people from whom you have taking away a lifeline do to a minor infraction will have to resort to something.

          • I should have said driving without eyeglasses when you are required to wear them.

          • Criminal Defense Attorney, how about we start with animal abuse? Forget about MJ use or driving without glasses. Let’s start with that worthless scumbag, Andre Lewis, who kicked King the Cat in the Brevoort Projects. Thrown him and his excuse-making, drain-on-society mother out of their digs. Forever. Besides Andre has already been convicted eight times of various crimes. Why is NYC payinig for this bastard to live in free housing?

          • To 11:55–if you read my whole post you would notice I suggested taking away benefits from those with certain violent crime convictions. This was in response to people advocating for stripping benefits for ALL criminal convictions.

      • If the government got rid of the mortgage interest deduction, the homeowner (read: voter) response would be to lower taxes radically, and the first thing to go would be the section eight housing. So don’t even go there.

        • That doesn’t make any sense as a matter of math. Yes, if we cut this giant subsidy, then all else equal, homeowners’ taxes would go up, so yes we should expect that homeowners would then demand that the tax rate should be lowered. But that would mean no net change in revenue to the government, so there would be no need to cut expenditures, section 8 or otherwise. In sum, it does not follow that to continue section 8 subsidies we need to continue homeownership subsidies.

    • You obviously don’t know any one who lives in a housing project. If you actually talked to them, you’d realize that 95% of people living in housing projects – especially parents and children – would LOVE to get out and be able to afford something nicer.
      You really ought to read Ta-Nehesi Coate’s article this week in The Atlantic. It shows how our government and banks purposely denied blacks the right to own homes throughout most of the 20th century. This has had the effect of blacks not being able to build inter-generational wealth. Inter-generational wealth is what allows middle and upper class folks – the vast majority of whom are white – to go to decent schools, get decent jobs, and afford downpayments on houses. Which then they pass down to their children.
      Seriously, please read this article. If it doesn’t infuriate you, then can’t even call yourself an honest American. If this happened to whites or Jews in the 1960s, heads would roll: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/05/the-case-for-reparations/361631/

      • That said, I should also state that housing projects were a terrible idea. Policymakers now realize this and that’s why you see the push for mixed-income/mixed-use developments, with set aside units for low and middle income residents in exchange for tax concessions. This is a MUCH better method for solving the housing issue. Hopefully, we will eventually see all concentrated low-income block housing demolished and those citizens re-housed in mixed-income developments that are spread throughout any given urban area.

        • Anonymous, I’ll read your link (bookmarking it now), but there is a difference between “wanting” to get out and actually taking the action to get out. The problem with many of these people- and I base this on years of reading stories from the “inside” of projects- is that many of them are ok with the status quo and afraid of change. Their status quo happens to be something that many would never tolerate, but they do. I read a very depressing story a few months ago in the Post about promising young people in Anacostia projects who attempted to break out, but the benefits, unexpected children, and peer pressure reeled them back in (one 19 year-old’s mother forced her daughter to start accepting food benefits in order to increase the household’s total food allotment- this after, the 19-yo expressed a desire to not live on the dole and be independent). I know it is hard to break out, but (IMHO) I would never place a child in a place like Park Morton. I would hustle, take odd jobs, work at whatever to get out and make sure my kid was protected from this place, a place seems to give life to a dysfunctional culture.

          • Anecdotes works both ways. There are anecdotes about low income people who are comfortable with the status quo. There are just as many anecdotes about low income people who are not comfortable with the status quo and want to do better for themselves and their families. I am sure that there are people who live in public housing or in private housing in poor and violent neighborhoods who are hustling, working multiple jobs, and doing everything they can to get out from their circumstances, yet find themselves unable to break free.

          • My feeling is the victim mentality can only take you so far. If you are truly doing EVERYTHING you can to break free, you will.

      • He’s fantastic at laying out these complex racial issues and arrived at the same conclusions that I did as a minority white guy growing up in DC back when it was at its blackest (ie outsider looking in). So when I read his articles it is like reading a smarter well edited thought out of my own brain, creepy right?
        Generational wealth is the elephant in the room that never gets discussed. Not even talking exclusively about monetary wealth but also educational wealth, wealth of professional experience, and other stuff white people take for granted.
        Anyway, if racial equality is ever achieved and we become a true meritocracy white people are going to be in for a rude awakening when we figure out that the reason we enjoy top socioeconomic status is because of white privilege or maybe we’ll just collectively cry out “reverse racism!” a term that so clearly encompasses everything that is white privilege as it screams “you aren’t supposed to be racist towards me! that’s my job!” And a hell of a job we are doing.

    • Tax payer-funded housing for low income people might simply be the least worst and least expensive option that our society has at this point.

      • No problem providing housing for those that need a helping hand. But if you’ve been convicted of a crime, you are banned from public housing. That includes minors.

        • You’re insane. Those kids will be on the street, roving in gangs more than they already are. Then you’ll a real spike in crime.
          They need all the parental supervision they can get. Putting them on the streets doesn’t solve anything.

          • If they’re already a lost cause, there’s no point in continuing to invest. If they get it together, great. If not and they decide to continue committing crimes, lock ’em up for good.

    • 1) I think that the “they” in the “they don’t care about us here” statement by the mother includes the type of men who will fire a weapon at someone without caring if innocent people get hit by the bullets.

      2) Getting rid of housing projects doesn’t solve the problem. It just moves it somewhere else, which is what I am sure you are getting at. Chicago tore down its gang-infested housing projects and scattered the residents to various other neighborhoods. Now instead of 3 large gangs controlling 3 different territories, you have 600 small gangs controlling 600 small territories – some as small as one block. Chicago is now the gang capitol of the United States.

    • “And no, I’m not saying everyone is bad, but the bad element seems to thrive in these places, while the others look the other way.”

      “Look(ing) the other way” implies complacency and guilt, you are contradicting yourself or using the expression wrong.

      I’m also not so certain that the “bad element” thrives in public housing (maybe public housing creates a bad element?), this is a chicken/egg nature/nurture argument and I’m confident no consensus will be reached here but I think your certainty is unfounded.

    • That sounds a bit dismissive for the lack of protection of law that most Americans take for granted.

    • Precisely why I am against DC turning the historic Old Jewish Home into affordable housing. DCHA has mismanaged nearly every affordable housing project in DC. We don’t need another Park Morton next door to a grade school, Raymond Recreation Center for families and kids or the restaraunts on 11th St. Let focus on increasing the tax base and creating jobs for our neighbors by bringing in more retail business and quality restaraunts in Petworth.

  • Wait, is the suggestion in this statement that the shooting was a random act of violence, and not a targeted shooting with collateral damage?

  • You have got to be kidding me. This press release seems designed to bury the relevant information “the onsite camera equipment was operating but the recording equipment was engaged in a software maintenance routine so the footage caught on camera was not recorded.” Thanks for nothing, DCHA.

  • I live so close to here. I’ve always felt safe, save for the streets directly around park morton. This is upsetting.

  • “A psychopath walked to a playground and fired a weapon hitting two people, including a precious child, and countless others were traumatized. ” —- Countless, really? How many people could have possibly witnessed the shooting?

    • It’s hyperbole. There were 6-7 other children at the playground. You can also count the stunned adults and parents as being “traumatized.” But given that this place has a lot of shootings, they may be immune to being “traumatized”- at least compared to others living in safer places. The Post quotes a lady who still has a bullet hole in her window from one of last year’s shootings. Seems to be normal to them, the only difference being that a child got messed up in the gunfire this time around. Will Kahlia’s mother move her out of the that place, though? I doubt it.

      • I feel traumatized every time a gun is fired in DC, which thankfully isn’t a daily occurence, but pretty near to it! The stress of living around such frequent violence shortens all our lives. Our elected officials need to do a better job, and they can start by increasing the mandatory minimums for weapons violations and increasing sentences when young perps plead guilty to second degree murder.

      • people don’t become immune to trauma. the more you see of it, the worse it gets.

        check out ptsd rates for soldiers on their 2nd or 3rd tours compared to those who only served one.
        or read How Children Succeed by Paul Tough, which talks about the effect of repeated trauma on the prefrontal cortex.

        • SBC, you’re right. I guess I’m frustrated that they continue to put up with it over and over again. I wonder why human beings approve of this kind of status quo. I’ve read long stories in the Post and elsewhere about the conditions in these places (i.e., Sursum Corda), and it frustrates me to no end that they live like this, generation after generation. That trauma does indeed build, and that’s why you get callous animal abusers like the kids up in NJ or that worthless scumbag in Brooklyn, who kicked King the Cat. They are abused, and they abuse- rinse, repeat. When you harm animals, though, you’ve crossed the line in my book. I want you ineligible for any public assistance. Ideally, you should be in prison for life. Period.

      • Really? People who are regularly exposed to trauma don’t become traumatized? Are you out of your mind?

        Are you also one of those people who thinks mothers in countries where 1/5 children die before the age of five aren’t really sad when their kids die because it happens a lot?

        Do some reading about toxic stress in children. It’s a real thing and not something they develop immunity to, no matter how resilient they may be.

  • Also, I hate to be *that* person, but if the shooter was indeed a “psychopath”, and this term was meant to be clinical and not incendiary, shouldn’t the perpetrator be treated for mental health issues, not locked away to spiral downward in an already-underserved prison population, where he would likely become more violent or even be killed? On second thought, I don’t so much hate to be *that* person.

    • Also to be ‘that person’ obviously this crime is horrible and something needs to be done, but every time I see “precious child” it makes me laugh

  • A lot of misplaced superiority here. If this were an everyday occurrence, the children wouldn’t be outside playing. Who knows if the shooter was a resident of the complex, as opposed to a random person on drugs.

    If you’re really afraid of shootings, then move someplace where you can have a better illusion of safety.

    • people who live in housing projects can’t afford to move somewhere else. That’s the problem. I’m sure this child’s mother would love to live in a row house or a condo just a few blocks over on 11th street.

  • I feel like this statement was crafted by DCHA’s counsel. They talk about their wonderful investment in security cameras, but it just so happens that when video footage is critically needed, their system was operating but engaged in software maintenance, so no footage was available. What?! They then call the shooter a psychopath and state that this happens all too often. In other words “please don’t sue us, we weren’t negligent”. This child’s family needs an attorney.

  • Public Housing is a huge failure in this country. The standards that were in place at its onset are long gone.

  • As a resident of Park Morton, I can inform the public that the surveillance cameras has not worked in years. DCHA and that property manager had full knowledge of the non working cameras and chose not to do anything about it. We have begged officials on numerous occasions for safer living conditions to no avail. We occasionally get a police light in the parking lot which only forces the criminals to hide out in our buildings until the police leave the premises. Most of the crime committed in our neighborhood are from people that don’t even reside on the property. Just because I fell on hard times and needed a little help with housing doesn’t mean that I should be subjected to live in a war field nor should I be labeled as a criminal. I am trying my hardest to get out of public housing for good I am unable to afford a decent place in the city.. Even “affordable housing” is too expensive. Do I think that we all should be moved to luxury apartments on the taxpayers buck, NO. I believe if you want the nicier things in life, you should work for them. However, we should not be afraid to leave our apartments because the hallways are full of drug dealers/criminals. We should not be forced to live in rodent invested homes covered in black mold and lord knows what else. Our voices are continuing to be ignored. The only time we see a little change is when Jim Graham catches wind of some issues that we have. The first step in my opinion is to get rid of the property manager. She does nothing for her tenants but lie, manipulate and hold us back as a community

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