Aug 10, 2020
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser Situational Update Transcript August 10
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser held a press conference on August 10 to update the public on a shooting that occurred over the weekend. She also discussed gun violence in the city. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Mayor Muriel Bowser: (00:00)
…Bowser, I’m the Mayor of Washington DC. Today, we are providing, with members of my public safety team, an update on a horrific shooting that occurred in the district over the weekend. The result of that shooting was that more than 20 people were shot, 22 people in total, including a 22 year old. I’m sorry, including a 17 year old who was killed, and a 22 year old Metropolitan Police Officer who was seriously injured.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (00:39)
On top of that enormous tragedy, we are also faced with the challenge of how to ensure that communities are safer from the spread of COVID by preventing mass gatherings in our city. All around, I have heard from members of the community, including neighbors at Dubois Place, including community leaders who are fed up with senseless violence and are desperate to find solutions. Like all Washingtonians, I want nothing more to have these guns off the streets and the people responsible for senseless gun violence brought to justice.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (01:35)
The situation is urgent, and every member of my administration, including the police department, the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, and every other agency is focused on how to blunt this gun violence and the fatalities that have resulted from it. When we look at the non-fatal shootings in our city for example, 570 people have been shot in the city this year. And just in the last seven days, 46 have been shot, including six juveniles in 16 separate incidents.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (02:21)
So all of our actions have been and will continue to be urgent about how to curb this gun violence. We know that is truly reckless behavior, and we stand ready to work with communities, our colleagues on the Council of the District of Columbia to make DC safer. So with that, I’ll take any questions. Yes.
Speaker 2: (02:52)
Do you have any update on the officer’s condition?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (02:56)
We understand that the officer remains in very serious condition.
Speaker 2: (03:00)
And do we have any understanding of why she was there?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (03:03)
I’ll ask the chief to give a preliminary summary of the investigation.
Chief Peter Newsham: (03:14)
Thank you Mayor Bowser. I’m Pete Newsham, the Chief of Police. As many of you are aware, over the weekend, there was a large gathering in the 3300 block of Dubois Place SE. This was a gathering that was advertised on social media and grew past the allowable limit of attendees per the mayor’s order. At around 12:20 AM on August 9th, six district officers who were already on the scene heard multiple gunshots. They located numerous victims suffering from apparent gunshot wounds. As the mayor mentioned, a 17 year old Christopher Brown from Northeast Washington, DC was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. I understand that Christopher is the father of a infant child, and I want to express my condolences, obviously, to his family. Now we have a little child who’s going to have to grow up without his father.
Chief Peter Newsham: (04:11)
DC Fire and EMS took Mr. Brown to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. Additionally, as the mayor mentioned, a First District officer who was off duty at the time was struck by gunfire. She received a very critical gunshot wound to her neck. She has improved. Her condition has improved since she’s been at the hospital. However, she’s not out of the woods yet.
Chief Peter Newsham: (04:40)
The preliminary investigation has revealed that over a hundred rounds were fired on the scene of this shooting. There were multiple shooters who fired simultaneously. We believe that there were at least four, and maybe more, shooters who all shot at the same time. The victims in the case, as the mayor has mentioned, there were 22 total victims, including Christopher who was killed. Twenty one of the 22 were adults. There were 12 female victims, nine male victims. The ages of the victims is there was one 19 year old, there were 16 folks that were between the ages of 20 and 29, and four that were over the age of 30. Eleven of them carried addresses in the District. Eight carried addresses in Maryland, but in the region. And two refused to provide their addresses.
Chief Peter Newsham: (05:42)
I want to say about the police response, I think some of you have seen the videos posted on social media. The police officers who were there responded in what I would say was a heroic fashion. When the gunshots were fired, the police officers ran towards the gunshots. There is video evidence of police officers tending to the victims of these very serious gunshot wounds. However, I am very concerned that a gathering of that size was able to accumulate without our managers over at the Sixth District being able to prevent that. So we will take a look as to whether that could have been handled in a better way.
Chief Peter Newsham: (06:26)
I am convinced that there is images of the shooters in this case. I am absolutely convinced that there is someone out there who has information, who was responsible for this. I can’t recall a situation where we have that many folks injured by gunfire in one incident in my career. We lost a 17 year old, the father of a small child. We would urge anybody who has information, let’s remember what happened here. This was a social gathering of young people and somebody thought it was okay, several people thought it was okay, in a large crowd with a lot of women present to open fire. And as a result, we’re sitting here this morning talking about over 20 folks that have been hit by gunfire and a young man who’s dead. So anybody who has information, I would ask them to call (202) 727-9099. Or you can text us on 50411. And I would remind people that that information can be left with us anonymously. Yes.
Steve [inaudible 00:07:42] Quick question, did the off-duty officer use her weapon at all?
Chief Peter Newsham: (07:46)
There’s no information to suggest that she did. We don’t believe she had her firearm at the time.
Did any MPD officers exchange fire? Or was there an exchange of fire at all?
Chief Peter Newsham: (07:54)
There’s no indication of this being an officer-involved shooting.
Have any weapons been recovered?
Chief Peter Newsham: (08:00)
There was one weapon recovered on the scene.
And do you know how many people were self transported to the hospital?
Chief Peter Newsham: (08:06)
I want to say, more than half self transported, and that provided or created difficulty with us figuring out exactly who the victims were and what their images were. I mean, what their injuries were.
Finally, you mentioned officers being in the area, and I believe you explained this yesterday, can you explain why those officers who were in the area did not try to break this up before the shooting occurred?
Chief Peter Newsham: (08:28)
Yeah. So there was not enough officers on the scene to be able to handle a crowd at that size. Sometimes, when our officers try to break up a crowd of that size, they can run into issue. So to safely address a crowd of that size, you need a lot more police officers. We had police officers available throughout the City. One of my concerns, one of the things we’re going to take a look at is why those other officers weren’t called to break it up. Go ahead Sam.
Is there any indication that women were targeted in this shooting?
Chief Peter Newsham: (09:05)
We don’t have any indication of that. But I mean, you can look at the injuries. We had 12 women that were struck by gunfire over there. So it really calls into question the shooters in this case, they absolutely have no regard for who was there, how many people were there, they just thought it was okay to open up, open fire in a crowd. And that, to me, indicates a level of cowardice.
Is it your belief that the shooters were males?
Chief Peter Newsham: (09:30)
We have some information to suggest at least one of the shooters was a male, but we don’t have all of the information on all of the shooters yet. But we intend to get it.
And do you have any idea as to what was going on, was this is an exchange of gunfire? Or they were just firing wildly into the crowd? Or do you have-
Chief Peter Newsham: (09:46)
It appears to be an exchange of gunfire at this point and you got to remember, we’re in the preliminary stages. This is a huge scene, a lot of forensic evidence, a lot of video evidence is being combed through right now. But it doesn’t appear like they opened fire on the crowd. It looks like an exchange of gunfire where multiple innocent folks were struck. Yes.
Speaker 6: (10:08)
Chief, Is there any indication from your staff in the Sixth District that this event was going to take place?
Chief Peter Newsham: (10:16)
Every weekend, we get a list of events, large events that are scheduled throughout the City. This was one of those events that we were aware of. Some of them accumulate to very large in size. Some of them only a handful of people come. So we try to monitor those events throughout the city. So that to answer your question, yes, this was one of those events. Yes.
Speaker 7: (10:39)
Any idea what time calls may have started coming in to complain about this event from the neighborhood and also all the [inaudible 00:10:48]?
Chief Peter Newsham: (10:47)
Well, we’re going to look very carefully at what time the calls came in. My recollection from looking, I was looking through a lot of stuff this morning, a lot of information on this case, I think around 9:00 PM we started to get calls.
Speaker 7: (11:01)
And then my question to you is, if you could speak to what is the sentiment? Not only is this community impacted, this looks like an illegal event that was happening, and also one of your own was also severely injured. How this is impacting the entire community?
Chief Peter Newsham: (11:13)
This is absolutely ridiculous that something like this could happen. This is unacceptable. We intend to find the people that are responsible for this. If a shooting of this magnitude had not occurred, what we would have had was, we would have had obviously a prohibited social gathering where people were putting themselves and others in jeopardy of COVID-19. But we got to remember that why we’re here and talking about this today, because we have events like that throughout the City, unfortunately, on a regular basis. But why we’re talking about this today is because you had several folks that felt that it was okay to open fore in that environment. And that to me is, I don’t even have a word to explain. Ridiculous is the only word that I can explain. Unacceptable. And we all need to, actually everybody who attended that event, everybody that has information has a civic responsibility to let us know who was responsible for this.
Speaker 7: (12:12)
And is there any new plans? We’ve heard you talked about getting illegal guns off the streets. We’ve heard family members talk about, judges even letting people [inaudible 00:12:23] not just yourself, but is there any new plan to address these illegal guns on the streets?
Chief Peter Newsham: (12:26)
We work very cooperatively with our criminal justice partners. I know that our criminal justice partners understand, by looking at all of the data that’s available out there, that these illegal firearms are contributing to the gunshot victims and the gunshot homicides in our city. So I’m hopeful that, collectively, we can work towards finding some changes to what we’re doing now to address this gun violence.
Chief, talked to one of the people who lives in that neighborhood. They were very angry, and they said that basically, they thought that the police should have stopped this. They said that their understanding was this group had tried twice to get a permit and could not get one. One, is it required? Is a permit required? And did these people in fact try and get one, or do you know, and were denied a permit?
Chief Peter Newsham: (13:26)
Whenever you have a party in the street, a permit is required. There was no permit for this particular event.
So then how do does it happen? If there’s no permit, can you get it early and say, “You don’t have a permit. You’re not supposed to be.”
Chief Peter Newsham: (13:39)
You know, Sam, I think I mentioned this already, I can give you a list of unpermitted events that we will find every single weekend, particularly in the warm weather months that occur throughout the city that have occurred since the public health emergency began. And in this particular instance what happened was, we had one of those large gatherings and we had over 20 people shot. In the back, and then I’ll up here next. Oh, you haven’t asked a question. Go ahead.
Speaker 8: (14:09)
Chief Peter Newsham: (14:11)
Yeah, he’s yielding to you.
Speaker 8: (14:13)
Is there any consideration at this point of holding the party organizers accountable?
Chief Peter Newsham: (14:16)
Absolutely. I think that there needs to be responsibility for whoever hosted an event of this size without any consideration of the public health emergency that we have going on. So that is something we are going to thoroughly investigate and see if somebody can’t be charged.
Mayor, can we expect any sort of policy changes in terms of the mass gathering ordinance to prevent this type of thing from happening?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (14:44)
Well, when we talk about this type of thing, I just remarked to my team upstairs that I’ve been surprised that your coverage is about mass gatherings and not about people shooting guns. Because that’s what the issue is. This gathering could have happened at somebody’s house, and if three people or four people decide to shoot guns you still end up with 20 people shot. Okay? So I’m very focused on why three or four, however many people we discover, decided to shoot guns at people they had invited to a party. Okay? So let’s be very clear about that. In terms of the mass gatherings, I think that you’ve heard the chief very clearly that we have to make sure that everything in our power is being done to stop it before it gets big, or stop it when it gets too big. Either way, we have to make sure that DC residents and DC neighborhoods are safe.
For those community members out there who are looking for a solution, who want to help, what is your message to those folks who are saying, “We want to figure out why they want to pick up the guns in the first place.” Not necessarily why it is specifically [inaudible 00:15:53].
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (15:56)
Well, I think that’s a big question. It’s a question for the government, it’s a question for individual families, it’s a question for faith communities, it’s a question for community leaders. I don’t think that there’s one simple answer to that, but we have a lot of young people who are walking around carrying guns for protection, to look tough, to be in music videos, any number of reasons, they’re carrying guns, and they have demonstrated that they will use them indiscriminately. And so this is an issue for young people. And then the other thing I’m going to say to everybody is, keep your young people close. Now, sometimes we’re talking about kids. You heard the chief, there was only one juvenile shot there. There probably were more juveniles there. But families we need to keep our young people close. Yes.
So two weeks ago, or two or three weeks ago, we did a story on Oxon Run Park, where there were a number of people there, ANC commissioners complained, and now we see the same thing, only it’s worse this time. I talked to the ANC commissioner who complained last time, he said, “Basically, people don’t believe that your orders have any teeth, and therefore they will violate them.” My question is, what are you going to do this time to make sure this doesn’t happen again?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (17:27)
Okay. Is it against the law to carry a weapon if you’re 16 years old and shoot it at three people? Or at a group of a few hundred assembled? Is that against the law? Do I need a mayor’s order for that? No, it’s already against the law. Right? Okay. So what we’re dealing with is people who will violate the law because they’re carrying guns.
But they [inaudible 00:17:47]
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (17:47)
Listen, listen, listen. I want you to use some logic here.
I don’t get that logic.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (17:52)
All right, well let me explain. You’re asking me to highlight a mayor’s order that you can’t gather, or you must wear a mask to a person who has a gun and will shoot it into a crowd of girls. All right? So we have to think about some new ways to communicate to a person who would do that. And so that’s what I’m suggesting.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (18:19)
Now, if you’re asking me, does something different need to happen if we see a block party that’s illegal and out of hand? The chief has already addressed that, Sam. We don’t think it’s okay for a block party to grow in that size. And at the same time that I’m saying that, there’s other people who are saying, “Well, you can’t send the police in, Bowser. That’s just going to cause more trouble.” Okay? So there is a conundrum. We don’t want people gathering for COVID, certainly, but we also don’t want a young person to think it’s okay to go to a block party where likely there are a lot of people there with guns. All right? So we can’t ensure your safety in that environment. So the chief is very committed, as we all are, to making sure that environments, not just a block party, but somebody’s house party or cul-de-sac of somebody else’s community, that we don’t have gunfire or people with guns.
Any indication the police have broken up any block party or any gathering like that so far?
Mayor Muriel Bowser: (19:21)
The police are policing every single day. This would include going… I can tell you right now, I drive through Rock Creek Park sometimes a lot, and I see a lot of gatherings. See a lot of them. I see in parking lots, I see people gather. So the thing about it is, human beings want to be together, and we get that. But we need people to stay socially distance, wear a mask, and by all means, don’t settle your problems with guns. Thank you everybody.