Report of Possible Shots Fired by the 15th and Girard St, NW Playground

A reader reports around 12pm:

“Apparently there was some sort of “shoot out” near the Girard Street playground on 15th and Girard (by the rec center). While dozens of kids were playing… Police are at the scene.”

Update from OP:

“Two people (at least) were shooting at each other. One ran into the park and turned around and kept shooting at whoever was outside of the park…WHILE HE WAS IN THE PARK. Surrounded by little kids.”

Update from DPR:

“The DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) has temporarily closed Columbia Heights Community Center (1480 Girard St., NW) due to a police incident in the Columbia Heights area.

The playground and building are closed. Everyone is safe inside the center and parents have been notified. The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) is currently conducting an investigation in the area.

Constituents will be notified when the center has been given the “all clear.” No evening activities have been cancelled at this time.”

62 Comment

  • Oh, jeez… please let it be more fireworks.

  • Casings on the ground, police closed off University and Fairmont intersection.

  • I am hoping it is just fireworks. Our kid was at the DPR camp and outside during the shooting! DPR called to tell us they are closing for the day. Scary.

  • Oh that’s my neighborhood! 15th street is such a mess!

  • There was a rampant open air drug market in that area before all the development went up and it’s still there. You can literally watch deals being made every day.

    Why can’t we stop this? Many can point to the individuals most involved. People don’t want to be pushed out of a neighborbood but then shoot up around a bunch of kids. I support public housing but there has to be some acceptance that the old ways no longer work there.

    • Is there actually any evidence that the issues on that block stem from public housing residents? Is there even any public housing on 15th?

      • The public housing is on Girard, at 14th.

        • Technically, the affordable housing at 14th and Girard is privately-owned, not public housing. Is there any evidence that points to the residents of these buildings are the problem? One of the affordable apartment buildings is temporary housing aimed at rehousing families and this seems like a longer-term issue in the area, so I highly doubt their residents are shooting up the neighborhood. I find it extremely counterproductive to assume that public housing is at the root of all problems in communities and it tends to ignore larger problems that exist.

          • Public housing in and of itself isn’t the root of all problems in communities, but often the way it’s implemented is a major issue. I think now, before we have any information, is not the time to have a discussion about how public housing relates to the problems in this community. Let’s get some info…

          • I lived on the block and wanted to believe that, too. But the cops told us differently, after one particularly spectacular shoot-out.

          • You’re trying to thread a thin PC needle here but I spend time around these folks who foster this environment. They’re not an abstract “bad guy” and, frankly, they’re not even bad guys, though they do take stufd that isn’t there’s.

            They’d have to be pretty independently wealthy for the amount of time spent hanging out if they’re not in subsidized housing.

            None of us want to believe this, but it’s a reality of the neighborhood.

  • This is beyond ridiculous. A few months ago, someone was arrested with an assault rifle on this block, and wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that someone was shot on the 14th St end of the block?

    There’s a known gang in the area and a newly renovated playground. Someone has to win that war…and it better not be the gang.

  • Update. DPR sent camp parents the following message (after parents went to pick up their kids as directed):

    Good afternoon DPR families,

    I am writing to inform you of an unfortunate incident that occurred outside of Columbia Heights Community Center this morning.

    First, all campers are accounted for and safe. However, it appears that there were gun shots fired on the street behind the playground and one of the persons involved ran through the playground area. Many of our camp participants were outside during this incident. MPD was notified immediately and the building and playground have been secured while MPD completes a sweep of the area.

    DPR takes the safety of our participants very seriously and, while we do not have any other details at this time, we wanted to inform you of this incident as soon as possible. We will continue to offer camp for the remainder of the day, but feel free to pick up your child early if you choose.

    If you have any questions, I can be reached at 202-391-1623.

    Best Regards,

  • Just so you know, it was NOT just fireworks. I was there with a group of children and had to literally grab kids and run. I never, ever want to have to do that again. I’m not sure what went down, but I saw a man with a gun and heard 6-8 shots.

  • Terrifying. My child was at this playground today. I am the last great defender of urban living, but I now completely understand why people move out to Fairfax with their young kids. I am shaken to the bone.

    • I’m so sorry. I would feel exactly the same way.

    • I thought I was the last great defender, but my child was there also. He’s 2 years old… F***ING TWO.

      • Mine’s 2 too. Only upside is that she’s probably too young to understand what happened and therefore get nightmares from it. Me, on the other hand…

  • For the parents whose kids were also there — are your kids in the DPR camp? If so, are you pulling them out? I’m also quite shaken and not sure what to do. I am yet another last defender of urban living, but this hits quite literally too close to home.

    • My kid was there, but not in the camp. I’m sure they’re safe now (and probably inside for the rest of the day), but honestly, I’d be worried about retaliation at a later date. Not that it’s likely to happen at that place during the day again, but still… we’re not going to that park anymore. Funny though, I said that last year after the shooting 1/2 block from Harrison Park, but we started going there again in the winter. I think the summer is just dangerous.

    • Our daughter is at DC Bilingual’s summer camp. It is up the street but they use that playground. Luckily they were on a field trip today. I scared to have them go back because there is usually follow-up violence. I am going to see if they can use a different playground.

      • We picked my kid up right away today, but I am not sure whether to pull him out of camp going forward. As others have said, there may be follow up shootings.

        Side note: I tend to think lax gun laws cause more shootings than public housing does.

        • +1 elm

          Almost 50 percent of England’s housing is social (public) housing, but this kind of violence occurs much less frequently, because guns are very difficult to obtain.

          Stop blaming the hard-working residents of public — or affordable (i.e. teachers, police officers) — housing who serve you your coffee and clean your office.

          • A couple comprised of a first year DCPS teacher and rookie MPD officer would have a household income of approximately $104K. They’re not living in public housing with that income.

          • Strawman alert. I think posters are referring to public housing that houses the perpetually unemployed (including those who have generations of unemployment while living at the expense of the taxpayer) and criminal. I don’t think anyone is talking about “affordable” (whatever that means) housing for cops and teachers. Whether you’re talking about the old Cabrini Green in Chicago or Potomac Gardens in my neck of the woods, it’s hard to argue that concentrated poverty housing is not part of the problem. Supporters of Potomac Gardens like to say only old people live there- it’s just the visitors who are the problem. That’s actually not true, but even if it was, we still have a problem and I don’t like paying for it or living around it.

          • Hell, when I moved to DC in 2003, I made $27k and wasn’t living in public housing.

        • “Side note: I tend to think lax gun laws cause more shootings than public housing does.”

          Me, I think criminals cause more shootings.

    • elm–I don’t know how you’re doing with this today; I hope you feel OK & that dropoff went well. My 4-year-old is in the DPR camp & I found that I had too much adrenaline to sleep last night. I do plan to keep my son in the camp, but if you want to talk things over feel free to reach out by leaving a note in my son’s bag (it’s a blue “dc water” bag; should be hanging up in one of the cubbies).

  • Navy Yard has rumor of a shot and the city closes it down. Walter Reed has a rumor of a single shot and its gets shut down. Gunfire and open crime in Columbia Heights, on a frequent basis and …. nothing? This is totally unacceptable. It is also ridiculous when commentators (well meaning I am sure) suggest that we should not make a connection to public housing and the gangs in the area. These commentators clearly do not live here and are not raising children here. Public housing is a good thing and plays an important part in a healthy city, but don’t pretend that it is not a factor in these events in CH.

  • I’ve been away from DC for three years. Has violent crime in Columbia Heights gone up this year, or does it just seem that way?

    • Can’t say for certain without looking at the crime stats, but I thought I heard recently (on one of the local news outlets) that crime in general is up from last year. Also, for some reason, the warmer weather seems to activate criminal behavior.

    • Didn’t the Post report that murder was up 20% from this time last year?

  • We have been using that playground, but no more. In fact, if our daughter wasn’t sick today, she would have been there during this incident. I believe Appletree CH uses the playground too. What is it going to take for our reps and police to pay attention to this and do something about it? Totally, totally unacceptable.

    • Our child attends Appletree and today the children were scheduled to play in the splash park at the playground. Had it not been for this PoP post, we would have never known about this incident. The parents need to demand answers from the institute.

      • I know you’re angry but what answers are you looking for? A feud erupted. They ran through the space and opened fire, one targeting the other.

        I mean, it’s terrible but what could DPR have done? It was happening before anyone could react.

        • Even better – looks like the counselors heard the gun shots, told the kids it was thunder to keep then calm, and rushed them inside (according to the account below).

          You should be thanking them profusely for being so aware and responsive, not “demanding answers” for a situation beyond their control.

          • To clarify: it seems that Gallery Place’s kids attend the Appletree camp. It was the DPR Little Explorers camp, which meets in the rec center next to the playground, whose counselors were so awesome with the kids. (Not to say that Appletree’s counselors aren’t awesome, just that the DPR camp story has nothing to do with Gallery Place.)

          • Our child was not with DPR. Our child was taken to the park with a group of other children from another program. What we want to know is 1. what time did the children arrive/leave the park 2. did the incident occur during their visit 3. if Girard St. was blocked off, why didn’t anyone inquire about what was going on, and 4-100 would be a slew of other questions about the safety of our children being walked down that street to the park.

          • Answers about future activity is fine; seeking to blame them for this incident doesn’t make sense to me.

  • I feel like a broke. Record, but I’m beyond frustrated. This is another hot spot among many in Columbia Heights that is a constant problem. Law-abiding neighbors constantly complain and ask for assistance yet nothing changes. I’ve been so disappointed in Councilmember Brianne Nadeau. We rarely hear from her on this issue and MPD is clearly over matched. I don’t know what the answer is, but I share your frustration and I didn’t even have a kid there. I’m glad yours are safe and sound.
    Crime in Wards 1 & 4 needs addressed. And by addressed, I don’t mean more community meetings. I mean we need to see results. We need to see arrests.

  • I wonder if the DPR e-mail went out to all DPR camp parents rather than just the Columbia Heights camp parents? Because otherwise it makes no sense in light of the fact that we were told to come get our kids.

    My kid was on the playground at the time, with camp staff. He told me that the counselors heard “thunder” and brought everyone inside. They seem to have done a great job keeping the little kids calm and unafraid; it reaffirms the great impression I’ve gotten of the camp so far.

    • I don’t know who got the email, but it wasn’t sent out until long after we had already been told to pick up our kids. From what I heard, DPR did a fantastic job getting the kids inside — the woman who called me said that they heard the shots, told the kids to get down, and then got them back to the building asap. When I asked my three-year-old how camp was just a half hour later, this incident wasn’t on his radar. After some gentle prodding about the playground, he said, “We heard the booms and had to go inside. One boy was crying.” My son doesn’t know what a gun is, and I want to keep it that way for as long as possible. (After today, I worry that won’t be for very long.) Hearing him talk about “the booms” broke my heart. DPR also seemed to do a great job calming the kids afterward. My son told me without prompting, “Everything is fixed now. It’s ok.” He didn’t seem to know what he was referring to, but he was sure it was ok. I wish I could believe it too.

  • Can we finally declare that the lack of police and dearth of public housing in Columbia Heights is a failure? Born from the failed Occupy movement and swept into office during a low turnout election, the great social experiment being championed by our Councilmember is not only failing, it is harming the taxpaying families that have invested in our community by purchasing homes and are raising families. I encourage everyone to call our Councilmember and express your outrage. Columbia Heights is not a playground for social engineering experiments to be rolled out to the rest of America, San Salvador, or anywhere else for that matter. It is our home. The Occupy movement collapsed and left the park downtown. It has no place shielding criminals in a playground 2 miles away.

    • Woah?! What are you talking about? Can you please clarify exactly what “Occupy” has to do with this terrifying gun violence? I’m really confused.

    • A dearth of public housing?! Is there another Columbia Heights I don’t know about??

    • Instead of “dearth” of public housing, did you mean “plethora” of public housing? I’m guessing you did.

      • Indeed I did mean plethora. Although perhaps exorbitant is a better term – especially in relation to other Wards. This wouldn’t happen in the Palisades neighborhood.

        • No, plethora is the better term. Exorbitant is an adjective. Although I have no idea why I’m offering vocabulary suggestions to someone who believes the Occupy movement is responsible for violence in Columbia Heights . . .

          • Ward 1 (Columbia Heights) and Ward 4 (Petworth) does have the most dense concentration in DC. I get so frustrated when all I hear Nadeau say is that we need more public housing yet rarely shows leadership (or acknowledgement) regarding the major crime problem in Columbia Heights.

    • I Dont Get It

      Dude go inside and take a break from the heat!

    • LOL wut?
      I’m pretty sure broke-ass people were in Columbia Heights before the Occupy movement.

    • I’m pretty sure almost all the public housing in Columbia Heights was there before the 2011 Occupy movement and the election of the current council member. I know the heavy drug activity predates all of that by decades.

      Can you explain the connection you’re making between the two? I don’t get it.

  • I am so upset to read about this and I’m thankful all of the children are ok. I haven’t taken my children to that park, but I was wondering the other day if it would safe enough now. After today, my answer is clearly “no.” Does anyone know if there’s been any sort of public response from the Mayor’s office or Councilwoman Nadeau’s office?

  • Washington Post finally has an article

    Are the police really still not sure? Wish they would interview the woman in this article who says she saw the gunman.

  • I live around the corner from this park and walk my dog around there almost every morning and afternoon.
    The amount of people loitering in front of not only the public/affordable housing but the corner and a house on University is impossible to miss.
    The age range (10-18 maybe?) of these people was a red flag to me when school was in session and now it is just a red flag. Shouting, rock throwing, fighting…
    I often see “special police” walking on 14th but they never turn down the side street. My hunch is that since University is a 2 block 1-way that dead ends into the playground and curves into Fairmont takes it off the police radar. It’s a no man’s land unless you’re looking to throw rocks at cars or intimidate people.

  • It occurs to me that the 3 entrances/exists to this playground, creating a bit of a thoroughfare, also make it an ideal chase/escape route. Maybe an idea to help with this kind of safety issue would be to allow only one entrance to th playground (?). Maybe even through the rec center. I don’t know, I’m just trying to suggest options, maybe it will spark others who are far more intelligent to come up with other ideas. My idea may have unintended consequences that I don’t recognize.

    • Like perhaps the fact that the people that fire shots at a park might be crazy enough to do it whether there’s another easy exit and then the kids have no other way out when he starts firing.

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