Reader reports shooting at National Zoo

by Prince Of Petworth April 21, 2014 at 5:55 pm 119 Comments


“I saw a teen being arrested, horses bikes helicopters, huge police presence!”

A reader also tweets us just before 6pm:

“Pop pop pop” at the zoo. Hoping it’s fireworks. Police helicopter and units suggest otherwise.”

Confirmed by MPD:

“Shooting_1752 hrs._2300 Connecticut Avenue NW”

From MPD:

“This afternoon at approximately 5:17 pm, two individuals were the victims of non-life threatening gunshot wounds while walking in the 3000 block of Connecticut Avenue NW. At the time of this offense, there was a large crowd of people patronizing the National Zoo and there may be witnesses to this crime. Anyone with information on this offense is encouraged to contact the MPD Crime Information Center on 202-727-9099. The police report numbers to this case are 14-055-269. You are not required to provide your name, address, or other pertinent information.”

Ed. Note: We spoke about gun shots in Woodley Park on Mon. 4/14 here.

Comments (119)

  1. Shooting confirmed by WTOP. :-(

  2. well it is family day, and tbh is to be expected on easter monday at the zoo anymore.

  3. Not surprising in the least. A few of these little assholes have ruined it for everybody else. Sadly, this tradition needs to end until people start acting a bit more civilized toward their fellow man.

  4. Its on the news right now, too. The zoo is closed, apartment residents are being held out of their building, and the news says the police were involved.

  5. wait they just clarified and said it was NOT a police involved shooting

  6. MPD tweet: “Shooting_1752 hrs._2300 Connecticut Avenue NW”

  7. That thread from last week about the shenanigans near Woodley Park totally called it. What a shame.

  8. #1001. And in that thread, some people wanted to shoot the messenger.

  9. im sorry why you don’t understand that.

  10. A group of kids started fighting outside mama ay’s right before this happened I just missed it but saw some some girl walking away that had a bunch of hair ripped out of her head…. like 10 of her dreadlocks just laying in the parking lot/bus loop

  11. If that’s “to be expected” on Family Day at the Zoo….something is seriously wrong! It’s no wonder I have no desire to go near anything dubbed “family style”!

  12. Even Buca Di Beppo?

  13. *ESPECIALLY* Buca di Beppo.

  14. Every year… At what point does the Zoo stop having this event?

  15. Seriously! If a certain event always culminates in violence, then something is wrong.

  16. Always? 3 time in over 100 years spread over 13 years? always?

  17. Even if the zoo stopped this event, I wonder if that would prevent anything. This happens every year, it’s becoming some sort of sick tradition or “trend”. Disturbing especially to unsuspecting tourists and residents. Perhaps they should just close the zoo altogether on Easter Monday.

  18. well stop the event first, if the trend continues THEN explore closing down the zoo Easter Monday.

  19. Agree with you!

  20. They need to either stop opening the zoo on Easter Monday or put so many police in it that none of these yahoos will want to attend. This mayhem stresses out the animals- the zoo shouldn’t allow it in the first place.

  21. Easy fix. All they need to do is start charging $1 to enter.

  22. Actually, according to the WaPo article, there have been two prior instances where there was violence at or near the zoo around the time of this event – in 2000 and 2010. So no, it hasn’t been “every year.”

  23. I saw federal cops in riot gear staging on Connecticut Avenue about 2:30. It’s like they were just waiting for the problems to begin.

  24. And they weren’t wrong!

  25. Having just moved to the DC/Woodley Park area and reading the comments from last week’s thread, I purposely avoided the zoo area. I hoped that nothing would happen and am very disappointed that I was wrong. When something like this can be predicted every year (even the police know it will happen with the heavy police presence), something needs to be changed.

    At least this time, it’s being reported in the news.

  26. Isn’t this type of behavior precisely why the Caribbean festival was discontinued?

  27. Yes, but we were able to pressure the city to stop giving them money for the festival. This is just a day at the zoo. You can’t really pull funding for that.

  28. But the Smithsonoan can

  29. But they can close the zoo on the Monday after Easter. Which is what I suspect will happen in the future.

  30. no. that was a financial issue.

  31. I feel bad for the zoo employees having to endure this every year

  32. thank you!

  33. Can anyone explain to me why everyone here is saying that family day at the zoo is an apparent magnet for violence? Am I missing something here?

  34. … because there’s a shooting or stabbing every year at/around the zoo on Easter Monday.

  35. last year there was a multiple stabbing at this event. Not sure about years before that.

  36. Stabbing in 2011

  37. What no one is saying is...

    Easter Monday is African American family day at the zoo. Sadly, it has a history of incidents like this one for the last few years.

  38. I’ve lived in DC all my life, and I myself have hung out at the zoo on Easter Mondays as a teen. But I’ve never heard a black person call it “African American family day”. This term has been thrown around the last few years as the so called “re-gentrification” has taken place. I can only recall about 2 incidents in the last 10 years, so get your facts straight.

  39. You may have been living in DC your entire life, but clearly you have been living under a rock the entire time!

  40. “…… can ONLY recall ABOUT 2 incidents in the last 10 years…” Sure. now this make everything alright. I feel much safer going next year. LOL!!!!!!!

  41. There have now been 3 MAJOR INCIDENTS. On the same day. At the same event.

    2 Multiple Victim Shootings and 1 Multiple Victim Stabbing.

    21% in the last 14 years this event has produced serious violence.

    That seems sorta high, right? And that’s just the 3 major incidents.

    I’m guessing there are fights, stolen property, etc. that have happened in other years but not reported in detail anywhere but I bet if we dug up the police reports we’d find plenty of details.

  42. The Monday after Easter is listed as an African American Family Celebration on the Smithsonian website. Search African American on the Smithsonian website… see what pops up.


    Navigation thread: Home,Events,Celebrations,African American Family Celebration

    Easter Monday – Easter Monday has been a Washington-area multicultural tradition for many years. The celebration began in response to the inability of African Americans to participate in the annual Easter Egg Roll held at the White House, until the Dwight Eisenhower presidency.


  43. Some are understandably squeamish about saying it but the event was traditionally a nice, peaceful gathering for African American families. While the vast majority of attendees still come looking for a peaceful outing, in recent years, it has become an unfortunate tradition for stupid teenagers from all over the city to settle their beefs during the event. In other words, don’t go to the zoo on Easter Monday.

  44. I agree with you 100%.

  45. Why not put in metal detectors for this day?

  46. The National Zoo should not have to do that. If there is a particular event that causes a consistent problem (like this one) then the event should be canceled outright.

  47. For everyone who says to cancel the event – how does a free zoo do that? I mean, that would normally be my suggestion too, but even if the zoo officially said it was no longer holding the event, it has been going on so long, and it is such a tradition,people will show up anyway.

  48. sorry ShawGuy – this was supposed to be a new comment, not calling you out specifically.

  49. No problem, @anon. And there’s a solution to what you’re talking about – just close the zoo altogether on Easter Monday for a year or two. People may gather out front the first year, but when they realize the zoo is closed, they’ll go elsewhere. Americans also have pretty short memories, so if you just keep it closed for a few years people will forget about it and then the zoo can re-open and just have a regular day that day from then on.

  50. Channel 9 reports 2 people shot outside the zoo, non-life threatening injuries.

  51. Any comment from Gray, Catania, or Bowser?

  52. Am I missing something? I see two MPD alerts about shootings on Connecticut Ave – one at 3000 (near the zoo) and one slightly later at 2300 (just south across the bridge, near Kalorama and Connecticut). Two separate events?

  53. Just speculation, but they mentioned in the news conference that one of the victims ran south down Connecticut before receiving medical attention/stopping police. Maybe it was just where the second victim was found?
    They also said they found him/her in the 2600 block, though, so maybe they meant that? It’s by the 2300 block of Calvert, I guess.

  54. Yes, I saw no less than six police cruisers/SUVs on on the east side of Duke Ellington bridge at the bus stop. I figured this was related.

  55. As many, many others have said, last week’s thread totally called this a week out. Everyone said that it was “racist” to say African American Family Day caused problems. And yet, we add another year of evidence to the list of reasons why this event should be canceled, and just to guarantee it doesn’t continue without the zoo’s blessing, the zoo should just close for Easter Monday altogether for a year or two.
    It’s incredibly sad that it’s come to this, but to guarantee the safety of the zoo employees, zoo animals, the nearby shop owners, tourists, and residents, for a public safety reason this has to stop. A bar would be shut down by the police if the same thing happened there, and the ABRA board would force any establishment to cancel an annual event with this type of predictable outcome or lose the liquor license altogether.
    Why is the zoo different? Are they going to wait until a rare animal, or worse, a human being, is killed before they have the courage to act?

  56. The Caribbean Festival should serve as precedent here.

  57. I’ve lived in DC all my life, and I myself have hung out at the zoo on Easter Mondays as a teen. But I’ve never heard a black person call it “African American family day”. This term has been thrown around the last few years as the so called “re-gentrification” has taken place. I can only recall about 2 incidents in the last 10 years, so get your facts straight.

  58. You’ve posted this twice, and I still don’t believe that you’ve never heard the term African American family day.

  59. its been called that for a while. and there have been more than 2 violent incidences.

  60. 40 years in this city, and I’m just hearing the term “African American family day”. Don’t know where it came from but its ridiculous!!!!!

  61. Proved. “Easter Monday: Celebrating the African American Family Tradition – National Zoo” and “Home | Events | Celebrations | African American Family Celebration”

    From the Zoo website, linked above.

  62. This person is a hermit with no tv.

  63. OK, but would you deny that on Easter Monday it is traditional for African-American families to go to the zoo? You can quibble about the nomenclature I guess, but you can’t deny that it’s a thing.

  64. http://nationalzoo.si.edu/ActivitiesAndEvents/Celebrations/Easter/default.cfm

    Easter Monday has been a Washington-area multicultural tradition for many years. The celebration began in response to the inability of African Americans to participate in the annual Easter Egg Roll held at the White House, until the Dwight Eisenhower presidency.


  65. “Only” two incidents in the past ten years. Are you kidding me? That’s a 20% rate of shootings on Easter Monday in the past decade. 50% rate in the past 4 years. It doesn’t matter what this day is officially or unofficially called. It is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

    At 5:15 in the evening people are returning home from work and kids are leaving after-school programs. They shouldn’t fear being shot while walking by the Zoo. Stop trying to defend this crap.

  66. Crime happens every day in this city. Just because its Woodley Park doesn’t mean anything!!

  67. Are you being intentionally obtuse, or are you just that dense? Crime happens every day, true. But get a grip. Shootings in an area packed to the gills with families don’t in fact happen every day. And they’re rightfully a cause for concern.
    You seem like you’re just reflexively arguing at this point, which makes your point — which I suspect you do in fact have — completely irrelevant.

  68. Not here to argue. They just started calling it “African American Family Day” a couple of years ago. I’m just wondering where it came from.

  69. when you realize that it was individual people that cause problems, not African American Family Day, you will be one step closer to being less racist.

  70. And when you realize that frank conversations that expose uncomfortable truths aren’t a bad thing you’ll be one step out of the ranks of the thought police. And maybe even little bit less self-righteous.
    The simple, undeniable fact is that incidents like this in major tourist and local family attractions are exceedingly rare. Also a fact is that the vast majority (maybe even all) of the shootings and stabbings at the zoo have occurred at this event. People will disagree vehemently about the root causes, but there’s no reason that an honest discussion can’t include the various theories about why this event is more dangerous than the average day at the zoo. And it is in fact more dangerous.

  71. The root cause of this incident is the behavior of several individuals. I agree that a frank discussion would be great, as long as it includes some commentary about the diversity of people within the African-American community. Such a discussion should also include the historic segregation in this city and the educational and economic disparities that unfortunately continue to exist in some communities here. Many African-Americans raised here have gone on to great careers and to be excellent contributors to society, others have not, as is discussed here repeatedly.

  72. Norris-
    This is true, but you can’t deny the sheer number of young African Americans, mostly men, in this city who cause almost constant problems like this. Yeah yeah I know, social and historical problems, etc…But i’m not here to screw up their lives. I just moved here for a job. This shit keeps happening and no one does anything.
    Obviously there is no easy solution to any of this (or any to be 100% honest), but I think a lot of people would be a little less bitter and more understanding if the response from the DC black community was anything except the usual finger pointing and placing blame on gentrifiers and historical disparities. As if the guy who robbed me at gun point last summer outside my house was all riled up because of how disrespected he feels because I have to pay a grand a month to share a crappy basement apartment in “his” city.

  73. what do you people mean “no one does anything?”
    you realize the last two people who perpetrated violence at the zoo on the day after easter are serving time, right?

    you do realize that many crimes have gone down, our schools have gotten better, and there are more job opportunities than many times in the past, right?

    if you have answers as to what specifically should be done, please please step up!

  74. Going forward, for the safety of unsuspecting tourist, the zoo should be required to post to their website and place huge banners at the entrance that there is a history of violence there the Monday after Easter.

  75. The Post article shockingly (and predictably) avoids identifying today’s Zoo event. From the article: “Two men were shot and wounded late Monday afternoon near the National Zoo, which thousands of people had visited on a beautiful Easter Monday.”

    “Attendance at the zoo was substantially higher than on a normal weekday in April. In a tradition that goes back decades, the zoo hosts special activities on the day after Easter.”

    What’s up with that? Isn’t the Post supposed to be about, you know, reporting news and information? This is journalistic malpractice.

  76. They also disabled comments after people started posting about “African american family day” and all the former incidents that have occurred. Just ridiculous

  77. It’s an affront to their worldview, so they can’t tolerate such speech…

  78. If this always happened at, say, an annual republican, tea party, or northern european heritage day, the Post PC Police would be all over it for days, doing backflips to tie the violence directly to characteristics of the group.

  79. ok. so? what becomes helpful in that?

  80. Well, my understanding is that it isn’t officially known as “African-American Family Day.” On the Zoo’s website it is simply called “Easter Monday.” Just because it has become locally know as the former doesn’t mean The Post has any requirement to report it as such.

  81. I live right next door to the zoo. I didn’t notice it this year but for the past several years there has been a large sign posted at the zoo entrance for “African American Family Day”. Very similar to the other signs they post for events like Boo at the Zoo. That said 99% of the people that attended the event had a wonderful day right until a few individuals ruined it.

  82. From MPD:

    “Anyone with information about the shooting that took place near the @nationalzoo call 202-727-9099 or text 50-411.”

  83. Easy answer. Cancel it. Is it worth someone being shot? Crime in this city is ridiculous and yet we continue to coddle folks because the grandparents and aunts of these criminals vote. When will dc wise up?

  84. When you call to cancel the event, do you mean shut the zoo down completely? Lets assume, for a second, that this was in fact feasible. What would prevent trouble-making teens from coming to the zoo on another day? You think the teens would avoid the zoo completely on their spring break? Would you then prevent teens from getting into the zoo completely? How would you distinguish the trouble makers from those who aren’t upon entry? (And no, the zoo isn’t about to set-up TSA-style checkpoints at the gates.)

    Look, I completely understand that folks are unnerved by the shooting, and they should be. But how do you – realistically – prevent this from happening if you are DC/MPD?

  85. I know this isn’t where you’re going with your thinking, but events like this are what lead to changes in policy that have negative impact on law-abiding citizens.
    As it is, the zoo has very lax security which is a blessing for those who like to run through it, or treat is as a big park with exotic animals. But maybe that will change. Or maybe, the zoo will start charging a small fee for entrance, which I imagine would dissuade lots of these teenagers from showing up at all. I realize that being part of the Smithsonian, these decisions are not going to come quick or without controversy, but eventually they may be an unfortunate side effect of this bullshit.

  86. I genuinely hope that you are wrong.

  87. According to the Post, a tradition of African-Americans attending the zoo on the day after Easter has existed since 1891. I just don’t see why the reprehensible actions of a few people should cause the zoo to be closed. The African-American community is diverse and these actions do not reflect those of the vast majority of people. There are many African-Americans and people of other races who want to go to the zoo on Easter Monday. If you choose not to go, that’s fine, but just leave it at that.

  88. No, it reflects the predictable nature of the event. It’s a shame that a few rotten ones are spoiling it for everybody but this event is a liability.

  89. Just an annual reminder of how our current system is failing a large fraction of our population.

    These kids weren’t born any more evil than the PoP commentariat was. We (yes, ‘we’) raised them this way.

    You don’t have a decent community unless it’s a decent community for *everyone*: a community where you’d get a good start on life regardless of the Zip code you happened to be born in.

  90. Oh please. “We” raised them? Crap. Their parents and family raised them, and did a shit job of it, apparently.

  91. Curious Tourist


  92. The zip code isn’t the problem. I agree with you that these children were born with the same tendencies as everyone who posts on popville.

    However, not all of us–no matter rich or poor, or somewhere in between–were raised, or at some later point self-identified, with this particular culture. This is a cultural problem…

    The sooner we acknowledge this fact the sooner change can begin.

  93. begin? we’ve already “begun”. we’ve been combatting a culture of violent crime successfully for the past 20 years.

  94. Speak for yourself, but I wasn’t born with a tendency to shoot people in broad daylight at a major tourist attraction.

  95. people aren’t born with that tendency.

  96. Tell you what, I’ll take the credit/blame as soon as all neighborhoods start rejecting this type of behavior, cooperate with police investigations, and hold themselves and their family members accountable for their decisions. Deal?

  97. loyalcitizenofzamunda

    Agreed. It truly takes a village/community to raise someone. It’s so easy for us to just blame one or two people. But we’re all responsible. Think about how wonderful or awesome this person might have been (and still could be) if a village of people showed them that they cared and invested in them. When things like this happen, it doesn’t just affect one person or the persons involved, it affects ALL of us.

  98. Uh, no. Sorry. I don’t think so. I’m not accepting responsibility for how these useless little street rats behave. I had nothing to do with their upbringing, and at this point I don’t care how they were raised. I also don’t care if they were born as innocent little angels (as I’m sure they were). Either they behave in a civilized way and respect other people or they don’t. If they don’t, they should be dealt with in a way that makes those of us who do behave respectfully of others feel safer. I’m f-ing sick of these kids getting a slap on the wrist because they weren’t raised properly and/or come from bad neighborhoods. That doesn’t excuse robbing/hurting/verbally abusing/harassing people. Nothing excuses that sort of behavior.

  99. Given this day’s violent history, the zoo should be required to post warnings on their website and on their gates that they cannot control the violence that inevitably takes place here (tourists, in particular, should be fairly warned). The zoo should also apologize for being negligent in protecting the animals from undue stress. I blame the zoo for encouraging this nonsense. Turn Easter Monday at the zoo into a police state to discourage people from attending. This “tradition” has morphed into something that needs to stop. They know this is bad- hence, why they already had an increased police presence before the shooting even took place. Time to stop this nonsense.

  100. A similar comment was posted at 7:21PM on 4/21. I totally agree. The zoo should warn people in every way possible that the Monday after Easter has had multiple incidents in which people have been shot and stabbed. Let people know up front that this particular day attracts gangs and people that are there for one reason and one reason only….to harm others.

  101. Hotels should also warn all guests upon arrival. I see this all the time if a visit happens to correspond to a marathon or something to warn guests about street closures and traffic.

    But how to approach that without coming across as casually racist, as so many of the (accurate) predictions from 4/14 did?

  102. Isn’t it extremely sad that it was predicted so easily the other day?….something wrong here folks

  103. Maybe DCPS can help out here by not making Easter Monday a school holiday. Then teenagers not accompanied by parents could be considered truant.

  104. Why is Easter Monday even a holiday here? In many parts of the country, the first day after Easter was the first day back at school after spring break. The kids should be in school.
    Frankly, I think it’s dumb that Easter is even associated with spring break. It changes from year-to-year and often doesn’t match up with the midpoint of the semester.

  105. It’s funny – in a sad way – to read the stream of posts about the “history” of violence at this traditional Easter Monday gathering. According to the article I read there have been two incidents of violence associated with this event. One in 2000 where several people were shot and one in 2010 or 2011 where one person was stabbed. I’m not discounting the significance of either of these violent events. But the repeated claim that “every” year this event results in violence is completely false.

  106. well said.

  107. If the annual spring Japanese festival or the Marine Corps Marathon or the Christmas tree lighting or any other annual public event held in the city involved stabbings and gun shots 20-30% of the years it was held, I’m sure it would be remarkable. While “history” may not be the perfect descriptor, you’re just parsing semantics and missing the point.

  108. Article above says this event has been held annually since 1891. That makes this the 123rd event, You really need to relearn basic math if you think that 2 incidents out of 123 events is equal to 20-30%.

  109. The issue is that sadly, we’ve come to reasonably expect the worst from these kids and they do not disappoint. And many people who once had sympathy and the “it takes a village” mentality have just had enough.

  110. ….maybe we should expect more?

  111. This event has happened since 1891. Violence occurred in 2000, 2011, and 2014. That means violence has happened 2% of the time, certainly not “every year” and certainly not 20%-30% of the time.

    Violence has happened at the Boston Marathon 1% of time time, including 50% of the time over the past two years. Maybe the Boston Marathon should be canceled. Why do kids even have Patriots Day off? They should be in school rather than getting into shootouts with police and setting off pipe bombs.

  112. So sure, 20%-30% of the time was not based upon the history of the event. That’s trivially true. Some things make sense to start counting from when a particular type of event started happening; in this case the year 2000. That’s like pointing at school violence and saying, “Well, in the history of organized education very few people have died” and then drawing the conclusion that school shootings aren’t really that big of a deal. There seems to be a troubling prevalence of violence at this event in recent years, that’s what matters. It shouldn’t be dismissed because it’s only happened three times in the history of the event.

  113. That’s one way to look at it. Another (better) way is that the event has turned violent 20% of the time in the past 15 years. Or 50% of the past 4 years. Put another way, whether or not this event turned violent in 1914 has zero relevance to this discussion.

    As an aside, I assume you performed an exhaustive search of records to confirm that there was no violence prior to 2000? Or are just assuming that’s the case?

  114. There may have only been shootings and stabbings three out of the last fifteen years, but there have been huge brawls, vandalism to nearby stores and cars, and many other arrests for drug use, possession, weapons charges, and disorderly conduct in and around the zoo on the day of the event in recent years. So while it only results for near-fatalities every now and again, it does result in problems often.

  115. +100. It’s not just about the shootings or stabbings. It’s all the other crap these kids get up to as well.

  116. +1000 It’s just amazing to me how dismissive people are in DC about this stuff. No one ever seems out raged, etc. I just think in general people in DC don’t have much pride in the city because no one is from here and everyone treats it like a “stop-through” city. And those that do plant roots here, seem to know it’s a lost cause after a few years.


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