‘Unconscionable’: Prosecutor angry that Crystal City shooting suspect — a convicted murderer — was back on street

The man charged with shooting a woman he knew in a Crystal City office building on Wednesday had been convicted of a 1991 murder in Arlington, Virginia.

Mumeet Ali Muhammad also was released on his own recognizance before trial in D.C. on charges of threatening to shoot a man last month. And last week, he was arrested with a gun — which is illegal for a convicted felon to have — soon after a woman was granted a temporary restraining order against him. But D.C. prosecutors dropped the case.

Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos was the county prosecutor in Muhammad’s murder conviction in 1992, when he was known as Tonie Macklin. She’ll put Muhammad on trial again in the Crystal City case on charges of aggravated malicious wounding, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

County police said Muhammad, 47, forced his way into an office suite in the 1500 block of Crystal Drive on Wednesday and assaulted a woman he knew. Muhammad shot the woman, and the police shot Muhammad. Both were taken to a hospital with critical injuries, but are expected to survive.

Stamos said it is “unconscionable” that Muhammad was released on his own recognizance despite receiving two stay-away orders, and having been arrested by U.S. Park Police near Fort Dupont Park in Southeast D.C. on Aug. 20.

Sources said Muhammad had suffered a slight injury — from handling the gun — after police responded to reports of shots fired. The gun was recovered by a police search dog in the park.

Also, court records show a woman was granted a temporary restraining order on Aug. 9, saying she feared for her life because of threats by Muhammad.

On Thursday, Stamos and police declined to provide more details about the relationship between Muhammad and the woman he shot, or the circumstances of the confrontation. It is unclear whether the woman who was shot had a restraining order against Muhammad.

“How is it that the courts released him on personal recognizance, given that he had a stay-away order and a violation?” Stamos said.

Kadia Karoma, a spokeswoman for the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, was asked to explain why prosecutors chose not to prosecute Muhammad, a convicted felon who allegedly had a gun and was the subject of a restraining order.

“We can’t comment at this time because of the pending case,” Karoma told WTOP.

D.C. court records show while Muhammad had failed to meet all conditions of contacting D.C.’s Pretrial Services Agency, he had not violated any stay-away orders, and there were no warrants for his arrest.

Back in 1992, Muhammad, while he was known as Macklin, was sentenced to 37 years for murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in the July 13, 1991, death of Shawn Herbert, in Arlington.

Although the sentence called for Macklin to remain in prison until 2029, “his conviction came before Virginia ended parole in 1995,” Stamos said.

Charging documents quote Muhammad as saying he was released two years ago.

On July 15, 2019, Muhammad was arrested in D.C., accused of punching and threatening a man.

“Mother[expletive], if you don’t come here I’m going to shoot you in the [expletive] head right now,” Muhammad allegedly told the man. A police search determined Muhammad did not have any weapons on him.

Muhammad is charged with two misdemeanors in the District: simple assault and attempted threats to do bodily harm.

After Muhammad pleaded not guilty, D.C. Superior Judge Errol Arthur ordered him to stay away from the man he allegedly threatened and the location where the threat was made, according to court records.

On Aug. 19, Muhammad was released on his own recognizance by Judge Patricia Broderick, with another stay-away order from the man in D.C. Muhammad was arrested the next day by Park Police for the federal gun charge that was later dropped.

Asked how she felt about prosecuting Muhammad again for a violent crime after securing a murder conviction in 1992, Stamos was blunt: “I think it’s incredibly unfortunate and distressing, that a man convicted of a murder in 1991 can be embroiled in another act of violence involving the use of firearms.”

Muhammad’s first court appearance regarding the Crystal City shooting hasn’t yet been scheduled.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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