‘We’ve seen a disturbing trend’: DC leaders stress accountability in wake of football player’s shooting

D.C. leaders spoke Monday following a shooting Sunday that wounded a Washington Commanders player.

Running back Brian Robinson Jr. was shot in an attempted carjacking Sunday afternoon in Northeast D.C.

Police Chief Robert Contee said Monday morning that Robinson fought back against one gunman and was shot by a second gunman as the two tried to take his car. He was hospitalized and treated for injuries that were not life-threatening.

Contee said that police are making progress, including finding a vehicle they believe was involved in the shooting.

“We’re working with our partners in Prince George’s County,” Contee said. “We believe that vehicle was stolen in Prince George’s County on Aug. 26, and that vehicle was recovered by MPD members. We have some other evidence that we’re going through, but we’re continuing to work this case and making progress.”

Police said they are seeking two shooting suspects, both teenagers. One was wearing a dark colored shirt; the other, a shirt with yellow smiley faces. On Monday night, D.C. police released photos of the suspects and a vehicle.

A ‘disturbing trend’

Ward 6 Council Member Charles Allen said, “We’ve seen a disturbing trend, where we’ve seen a number of armed robberies and thefts, where we’re seeing younger people be a part of that.”

Allen said D.C. is not alone in seeing this uptick.

“We know we’re seeing this across the whole region, other cities in the country are as well. So we’re not unique in that. And we’ve got to have really strong solutions that work together,” Allen said.

One of the things Allen praised Contee for is the creation of strong regional partnerships with nearby counties in Maryland and Virginia, such as the carjacking task force.

Contee, Bowser and Allen echoed each other in calling for accountability in Robinson’s shooting.

“We’re talking about kids … I don’t know for sure if they’re juveniles or not, but we’re assuming that, carrying a gun to committing an armed robbery, somebody was shot,” Allen said. “There has to be accountability for that. There just has to be.”

On the question whether juveniles are not facing enough consequences as one reason for the trend, Bowser said, “Any person, regardless of their age, who uses a gun needs clear and certain consequences.”

She added that the entire criminal justice system needs to focus on getting fully open and making sure to get those who have used guns and will use guns on a “different trajectory.”

“I don’t think you can point to any one part of it. It is the whole as a system,” Allen said, adding that the District has a complex system that is not all under D.C. local control.

“So you have the policing and where an investigation takes place with an arrest. Then you’ve got the prosecution; we have a federal prosecutor who has no accountability to the District, who handles most of those cases; for juveniles, obviously, we do with the attorney general. And then we have a court system, where the judges are making decisions, and that is also a federal system with no accountability to the District,” Allen said.

But Allen said that in the last six months, he has seen a stronger partnership between the executive branch, the mayor’s office and the council.

Urgency across the board

Bowser said the presence of guns is making the community less safe as D.C. police and other resources are focused on getting guns off the street.

“What we saw, in this case and others, is just a wanton use of a firearm, that hurts somebody,” Bowser said.

Contee said that people should feel safe in the District, but acknowledged that incidents, such as Robinson’s shooting, “certainly when these situations are reported, they make people feel less safe.”

Allen said he thinks there is “urgency across the board.”

“When I talk with the mayor and the chief all the time about public safety, there is urgency there. When I talk with the courts, or I talk to the attorney general, there is urgency there. So everybody’s on the same page, that this is a priority, that this is urgent, and we have to work hard at this,” Allen said.

Allen said it’s going to take a regional solution.

“If the vehicle last night was found in Prince George’s County, that tells us this isn’t just D.C., this is a regional issue,” he said.

Moreover, Allen called for a “both and and” approach to have the accountability when harm is done.

“That means you’ve got to have a high-functioning court to make sure that cases are being heard; you got to have good prosecution. When a suspect is arrested, you have a good investigation, you should have a good arrest — all those pieces have to fall into place. And that’s just after the harm is done.

“We also have to be able to at the same time be able to focus on ‘Why did someone carry a gun in the first place? Why did someone choose to use a gun in the first place?’ and get at that. That’s why it’s the both and and; there’s not a single answer,” Allen said.

WTOP’s John Domen contributed to this report.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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