DC Council candidate Nate Fleming talks about carjacking, boy’s arrest and rise in juvenile crime

D.C. police arrested a 17-year-old boy in connection with the mid-January armed carjacking of a D.C. Council candidate.

Nate Fleming, candidate for a city council at-large position and former shadow representative for the District in Congress, said four masked individuals drove up to him at a gas station on the corner of Nannie Helen Burroughs and Minnesota avenues in Northeast D.C. on Jan. 15.

Full interview: WTOP's Joshua Barlow speaks with Nate Fleming about his carjacking experience. (Runs 7:30)

Two of the four individuals jumped out of a minivan, and one of them pointed a gun at Fleming as he demanded Fleming’s keys. After handing them over, the one suspect drove off with Fleming’s vehicle and the others left in the minivan. Footage of the carjacking was captured by the gas station’s security camera and published online:

A 17-year-old boy from District Heights, Maryland, was arrested Friday and charged with carrying a pistol without a license, unauthorized use of a vehicle and possession of an unregistered firearm. He was later charged with robbery after a subsequent investigation by the Metropolitan Police Department’s Carjacking Task Force.

In an interview with WTOP following the arrest, Fleming said the rise in carjackings — and of juvenile crime in the District — is partly a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“In 2020, there was 153% increase in carjackings from the previous year. And then, in 2021, there was an 18% increase from that. So I would have to attribute it, to some degree, to the pandemic,” Fleming said.

“Two-thirds of these crimes are being done by juveniles … I think it speaks to the disengagement that many young people have, given the emergency and the pandemic, among a host of other factors.

“Young people aren’t being engaged all day. Young people are not being provided with economic opportunities,” Fleming said.

“I think the combination of those two factors and the lack of engagement with caring adults and things that are productive, that disconnection and just a general lack of economic opportunities, particularly for young people, and those of lower economic socio economic status as a result of the pandemic have led to the rise of carjackings.”

Fleming, who grew up only a few blocks from where his carjacking occurred, said many of the things he benefited from growing up are simply not available for today’s youth.

“I was always involved with high-quality after-school programs that brought caring adults into our lives. We have to make sure that we put the resources and the infrastructure in place so that every young person in this city has access to a high-quality after-school opportunities of their choice, regardless of their ability to pay,” he said.

“I participated in the Police Boys and Girls Clubs growing up, playing a lot of sports and being engaged in a lot of enriching activities. We don’t have that program anymore. That’s something I propose to bring back, because I think that’s essential in improving community-police relations, particularly among young people in having the network of Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubs.”

When asked what he hoped for the 17-year-old boy arrested Friday for the carjacking, Fleming said, “The judge is the person who has to make the decision about the young man’s fate and his path. I would like this young man to eventually become a productive member of society. I think that’s all of our goals.

“As it relates to the broader issue of juvenile sentencing. I certainly hope to become a member of the D.C. Council, because that’s a decision that we as a community have to make. The mayor, the council, the Attorney General, the community residents, we all have to partake in that discussion.”

In a news release, D.C. police made no mention of the other individuals involved with Fleming’s carjacking, but said that the case is still under investigation.

Anyone who has knowledge of this incident is asked to contact police at 202-727-9099, or text tips to 50411.

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Joshua Barlow

Joshua Barlow is a writer, composer, and producer who has worked for CGTN, Atlantic Public Media, and National Public Radio. He lives in Northeast Washington, D.C., where he pays attention to developments in his neighborhood, economic issues, and social justice.

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