As his funeral services commence at 11 a.m. today, much of the Brookland community and beyond are still angered and looking for answers from police following the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old Black boy and their perceived inaction by police against the adult male who killed him.
According to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), teenager Karon Blake was shot multiple times by a man, whose identity police have yet to release, on Saturday, Jan. 7 around 4 a.m. in the northeast Washington, D.C. neighborhood of Brookland in the 1000 Block of Quincy St. The man inside a residence says he heard noises and proceeded to go outside with his registered firearm when an “interaction” between him and Karon ensued resulting in the man shooting Karon. Neighbors said they heard four to five gunshots.
The man reportedly called the police after the shooting. When police arrived they discovered Karon “suffering from apparent gunshot wounds.” Police later said the man was performing CPR on Karon when they arrived before he was taken to a hospital. He was later pronounced dead.
The case has quickly drawn much attention and outrage within the Brookland community and beyond with people calling for the shooter’s identity to be revealed and more swift action to be taken.
In a press conference on Jan. 10, D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee was intent on responding to “dangerous” and “reckless” actions from some groups demanding swifter action from MPD, saying that prematurely rushing the case would not help the police to do their job. Contee clarified that police usually would not identify the person’s name in similar cases without a warrant or if it is someone that they are trying to identify. He did reveal that the person was an adult Black male. He also stated the male has retained legal counsel.
“We’re gonna get this right. We’re gonna do it the right way. And, we’re not gonna be influenced because of some people that think this should have happened or this should have happened,” Contee said.
Contee also called out the misinformation “swirling” on social media including examples of people’s faces being shown as the possible shooter without any proper information.
“People are tying it to race and other things and putting images of innocent people out there next to young Karon saying that this is the person responsible…That’s reckless and that’s dangerous,” he said.
He said that an independent investigation is being done by the U.S. Attorney’s office and will ultimately be decided by a D.C. grand jury in deciding whether or not charges should be brought forth.
Multiple D.C. Council Members as well as Mayor Muriel Bowser have spoken about the case. Bowser confirmed that the shooter is a D.C. government employee and has been put on administrative leave.
Local activist groups such as Ward 5 Mutual Aid (W5MA), Harriet’s Wildest Dreams (HWD), and D.C. Safety Squad (DSS) have released multiple statements through social media posts and press releases demanding more immediate and stern action to be taken by the MPD, specifically that they release the identity of the shooter and charge him.
In an Instagram post by W5MA, the group revealed they were taking investigative action of their own including compiling a list of all the homeowners in 1000 Quincy St and saying they are “researching the backgrounds of these potential culprits.” Brookland is located in Ward 5 of DC.
“We call on Deputy Mayor for public safety Lindsey Appiah, Mayor Bowser and the Council of DC to do the right thing, stop the cover-up and release the identity of this vigilante killer. Our community cannot feel safe while our mayor and police force allow a rogue armed man to appoint himself judge, jury and executioner, and gun down a 13-year-old boy on our streets,” their social media statement read.
Evan Quaintance, an honors political science major at Howard, the assistant projects and programs director of the 62nd administration of the Howard University Student Association and the political director for the Howard University College Democrats, discussed the unfortunate killing.
“I am sad but not surprised…Karon is a new name on the long list of futures that have been stripped away and have left another cause of pain for my community,” Quaintance said.
Quaintance believes these killings in D.C. should empower Howard students to get involved, as they impact students, too.
“While [our] careers have taken us to The Mecca, the lived experience of Black folk in D.C. is not something that is over in three to four years. We must use our intellectual, political and communal power to be an ally to those people, not an entity that chooses to interact only when necessary,” Quaintance said.
Karon was a student at Brookland Middle School. A vigil was held on Jan. 14 to honor his life, which featured many members of the Brookland community as well as Karon’s family and friends paying tribute to his memory.
Copy edited by Nhandi Long-Shipman