WASHINGTON — A teenager, 16-year-old Malik Holston, is now in custody, charged as an adult with killing a 15-year-old Gerald Watson in his apartment building stairwell.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Watson’s death marked 156 homicides in the city this year.
D.C. investigators believe the shooting stemmed from a neighborhood dispute, but don’t think Watson, a freshman at Anacostia High School, was the target of two masked shooters who cornered him in an apartment stairwell on Thursday, Dec. 13 on the 2900 block of Knox Place, Southeast.
Watson was shot nine times and pronounced dead at the scene.
“Too many young people, particularly our boys, are getting caught in a dangerous cycle of violence fueled by illegal firearms,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser in a news conference on the arrest Tuesday afternoon.
Holston was arrested Tuesday morning and faces charges of first-degree murder while armed, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said. Investigators are still looking for a second shooter involved in Watson’s killing.
In detailing Holston’s arrest, Newsham also announced an arrest in the killing of 20-year-old Randall Francis who was shot to death on Nov. 26. He was shot alongside a 60-year-old man who is expected to recover.
“From all accounts, Randall Francis was an extremely talented young man, a successful student and a recent graduate of Eastern High School,” he said.
Malik Morris of Northeast, D.C. was arrested on a warrant for first-degree murder while armed in connection with Francis’ killing. Investigators tracked him to Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania and arrested him on Dec. 6, Newsham said. The U.S. Marshals Service transported Morris and charged him for his role in Francis’ killing.
Their deaths are troubling for their communities and for the city at large, which has marked 157 homicides, as of Tuesday afternoon. That’s a 43 percent increase over the killings in 2017, however, overall violent crime is down including sex abuse, assaults with dangerous weapons and robbery.
During the news conference, Bowser and the chief made a plea to the public to report any illegal guns.
“We need to get to that person before they use that firearm to end someone’s life and effectively, their own,” Bowser said.
Police are offering a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone with information on this incident. Anyone with information should call police at 202-727-9099. Anyone who would like to submit information anonymously can submit tips by texting 50411.