WASHINGTON - The man who shot several rounds from an AK-47 into a crowd of teenagers two years ago took the stand on Wednesday and cried as he admitted his role in one of the most violent drive-by shootings in D.C. history.
Nathanial Simms, an admitted drug dealer who has pleaded guilty to five murders, is now the government's key witness in the case against the five defendants, who are between 21 and 23 years old. They were all childhood friends who grew up together in the same Southeast D.C. neighborhood.
Simms, who is not one of the defendants, is cooperating with prosecutors as part of his plea deal, prosecutors say.
Five people were killed and nine injured over the course of eight days in March 2010 in three separate attacks that have since been dubbed the "South Capitol Street Massacre."
The first shooting occurred on Alabama Avenue, and then two more retaliatory attacks followed -- the final on South Capitol Street, police said. The victims ranged in age from 16 to 23.
On Wednesday, Simms said the violence started when he and three of the defendants went to avenge the theft of a fake gold bracelet with the intent of shooting, killing and hurting people in any way they could.
When the prosecutor showed the court the AK-47 used in the killings, several family members left the courtroom in tears.
"It was hard for me to sit in there and listen to how my son got killed with that AK-47," said Diane Jordan, whose son was the first victim.
The defendants face more than 90 charges, including several first-degree murder charges.
More than 100 witnesses are expected to testify in the trial that began late last month and could last up to three months.
If convicted, the men could be sentenced to life in prison. D.C. does not have the death penalty.
WTOP's Mark Segraves contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.
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