‘I’m absolutely crushed’: Father remembers son killed in downtown DC shooting

Terence Dantzler Jr., 29, of Marshall, Virginia, was shot to death in the 700 block of Eighth Street Northwest on Thursday night, police said. (Credit: Google Street View)
Virginia father remembers son who was killed in DC shooting (WTOP's Megan Cloherty )

Terence Dantzler Sr. just received devastating news: His son, his namesake, is dead. D.C. police identified the 29-year-old man as the victim of a deadly shooting Thursday evening in the Chinatown area.

“I’m crushed. I’m absolutely crushed,” the elder Dantzler said. “You hear people say how hard it is to bury a child, but you don’t know until it’s you.”

Dantzler Sr. said his son, Terence Dantzler Jr., who went by T.J., was unemployed and living with him in Marshall, Virginia. The younger Dantzler was visiting his cousin in D.C.

Around 5 p.m. Thursday, Dantzler Jr. was shot multiple times in the 700 block of Eighth Street Northwest near the National Portrait Gallery, according to charging documents.

Jaykell Mason, 20, of Southeast D.C. was named as the suspect. D.C. police said officers chased Mason shortly after hearing shots and ended up exchanging gunfire with him. Mason was later arrested. He’s charged with first-degree murder while armed, assault on a police officer and carrying a pistol without a license.

Father: 'You don't know until it's you' (WTOP's Megan Cloherty)

Traveling back from identifying Dantzler Jr.’s body at the morgue, the father recalled happier times, remembering how he had trouble pulling his son out of a restaurant or bowling alley because the younger man could strike up a conversation with anyone.

T.J. also loved to cook, and he loved the Washington Nationals so much that he got a curly-“W” tattoo on his arm, Dantzler Sr. recounted.

The younger man was a father himself, with a 7-year-old son whom Dantzler Jr. was hoping to spend more time with as a family.

“These three generations right here will never ever have the chance to go fishing, play baseball, go to a Capitals game, a Wizards game, a Nationals game — nothing. Nothing,” Dantzler Sr. said.

When he learned his son was killed with what police believe was a stolen gun, Dantzler Sr. was incensed.

“You’re not supposed to have a gun in D.C. unregistered,” he said. “This guy who just murdered my son is a crook.”

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