Mayor Bowser defends DC’s ‘safe passage’ program after deadly shooting

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser reaffirmed her support for the Safe Passage Safe Blocks program following a shooting earlier in the week that left a man, who worked for the program, dead.

“We think it’s a very important program to our overall public safety apparatus,” she said Friday. “We’re at over 50 locations throughout the District of Columbia to support schools.”

Bowser said the program was “especially important given that our police personnel numbers aren’t where they should be.”

Police said the 36-year-old man, identified as Michael Gaddis, worked with the program, which places adults at crosswalks and street corners to help ensure that kids are safe as they travel to and from school.

The shooting happened after an argument on Monday afternoon at the intersection of 5th Street and Somerset Place NW in front of Coolidge High School.

Three schools in the immediate area — Coolidge, Ida B. Wells Middle School and Whittier Elementary School — were placed on lockdown for about an hour.

Gaddis was not on duty with the program when the shooting happened, but he was wearing a Safe Passage Safe Blocks vest.

Bowser said it appeared that Gaddis was “preparing” to go on duty at his station which was “nearby.”

Police said they believed the suspect and the victim knew each other and that the suspect likely fled the scene in a vehicle, but they have not specifically named a suspect yet.

The city first started the Safe Passage Safe Blocks program in 2017, responding to concerns about the safety of students in high-crime areas.

Community-based organizations receive grants from the city and use that money to participate in the program.

“We place a high emphasis on making sure that contractors that work with us have trusted and vetted personnel, and that is where we’re putting our attention,” Bowser said.

Gaddis was with “Collaborative Solutions for Communities,” which is one of the groups that participates in Safe Passage Safe Blocks.

WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez contributed to this report.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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