National Zoo to increase security to thwart pattern of springtime violence

WASHINGTON – Spring has become a violent time of year at the Smithsonian National Zoo as a number of incidents over the last few years have raised security concerns. Now, the park is announcing visitors should expect changes.

It was last April when shots rang out at the National Zoo, leaving two people hurt, families scared and Connecticut Avenue shut down for the investigation.

At a meeting with Woodley Park residents following the Easter Monday shooting, Capt. Lance Ware of Metro Transit Police said his agency “did get some intel about gang members that wanted to meet up at the zoo and wanted to fight.”

The latest in a series of violent incidents at the zoo, the shootings seemed to correlate with local schools’ spring breaks. So, ahead of this year’s breaks, where zoo officials say it can see an attendance of 25,000 or more, it’s increasing security.

After months of study, the zoo is  rolling out what it calls “access controls,” which is increased security that will begin in late March, early April. The extra precautions will include bag checks, security screenings and limiting how many people can be in the park at one time.

The security is similar to what visitors usually experience at Smithsonian museums on the Mall.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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