DC Parks employee charged in 13-year-old Karon Blake’s death mentored teens for a living

The man charged with second-degree murder in the killing of 13-year-old Karon Blake is a longtime employee with the District’s Department of Parks and Recreation, where he worked to mentor and support teens.

Before ordering 41-year-old Jason Lewis be held without bond, D.C. Superior Court Magistrate Judge Judith Pipe said, “From all accounts, Mr. Lewis is an upstanding individual. He has done a lot in his life to benefit the community and those around him.”

However, she decided to hold the 41-year-old father of four without bond, given the “especially concerning” facts of the case, noting that evidence indicated he was the “first aggressor” in the early-morning encounter that left the teen dead.

In charging documents, authorities said Blake and two other teens were driving a stolen Kia in Lewis’ neighborhood before stopping shortly before 4 a.m. on Jan. 7 and checking out cars parked on the street. Police said surveillance video indicated Lewis went to his front gate armed with a semi-automatic gun and fired at the Kia parked in an alley and then fired on Blake, who began running toward him.

Police said Lewis initially didn’t tell officers that he had fired on the Kia first.

Lewis has pleaded not guilty.

In a statement, his attorney Lee A. Smith III, underscored his innocence and his belief “there was no crime here.” The statement said, in part, “Lewis has dedicated his career to mentoring and supporting youth in the District of Columbia which only adds to how distraught he is over the death of Karon Blake. Mr. Lewis and his family offer their heartfelt condolences to Karon’s family and other loved ones.”

During the court appearance Tuesday, Smith asked the judge to consider the lifelong D.C. resident’s work with kids at the parks department.

“He has been an upstanding member of the community, actually working with youth for the past 18 years trying to avoid these very types of situations,” Smith argued.

WTOP’s Acacia James interviewed Lewis a year and a half ago during a DPR video game event to engage teens in the Trinidad neighborhood in Northeast D.C. The interview came during a time of increased concern about a rise in youth crime.

“I mean, the kids, they definitely need something to occupy their time, occupy their minds,” Lewis said at the time. “And gaming is one of the things (that) some people frown upon and say, ‘Well, the kids, they need to get outside and run around.’ But I mean, right now, outside running around, it’s a chance you might be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

At the time, Lewis said he was passionate about engaging at-risk youth in the Northeast community.

“I think I was chosen to do this work,” he said.

Lewis’ LinkedIn page says he also worked on outreach for D.C.’s famed go-go group the Backyard Band. He testified before the D.C. Council in October 2019 about making go-go the official music of D.C.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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