Police arrest double shooting suspect; council member calls demoted police commander ‘scapegoat’

WASHINGTON — Police in D.C. have arrested a man suspected of gunning down a mother and father in Southwest over the weekend.

Alonzo Lewis, 33, who was taken into custody Thursday, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder while armed in the shooting deaths of 40-year-old Jaquon Helm and 35-year-old Venius Badgett.

The May 26 shooting, which orphaned the couple’s five children, was one of a string of gun-related violence over a particularly bloody Memorial Day weekend in which police responded to a total of 10 shootings.

The uptick in violence has ratcheted up public pressure on police and city officials.

Earlier this week, police leadership unexpectedly demoted the Seventh District police commander, Regis Bryant, a former commander of the year. Bryant was transferred to the information technology bureau as an inspector, and Commander Andre Wright will become the ward’s new commander starting Sunday, police said.

The announcement came after the weekend’s violence, but police did not provide an explanation for the personnel move.

Ward 8 Council member Trayon White issued a lengthy statement Thursday, calling Bryant a “scapegoat” and requesting the commander be reinstated immediately.

“The decision to demote Commander Bryant is just another example of the lack of a coherent and coordinated strategy from the Office of the Mayor to effectively address increased violence in Ward 8,” White said in the statement.

White, who said his “community is in crisis,” said Bryant had helped improve the morale of the officers under his command and had helped build trust between the police force and community members.

“The very last thing that my community needs right now is a change in police leadership in 7D,” he said. “We simply do not have the time to waste for a new Commander, however well intentioned, to gain the confidence and support of residents.”

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