‘Don’t feel safe’: Brightwood planning community meeting after deadly shooting

Patrick Swanson / January 06,2023

Residents in D.C.’s Brightwood neighborhood say they’re concerned about safety, after a shooting on Georgia Avenue this week left one man dead and three other people injured.

A longtime D.C. resident recently told Kim Patterson, a newly-elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and vice president of the Brightwood Community Association, that she no longer plans to take the bus from Georgia Avenue downtown.

The woman’s brother had previously mentioned that he wasn’t comfortable with his sister taking the bus from the busy corridor, and she initially resisted. But now, she’s planning to begin driving to work, Patterson said.

In the aftermath of Tuesday night’s shooting, which left a man dead and three others injured, including an 8-year-old, Brightwood residents are frustrated and concerned about violent crimes in the neighborhood. Community leaders are working to schedule a meeting with D.C. police and representatives from Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office to address some of their concerns.

“Generally, after the incident on Georgia Avenue, many of the residents and the homeowners and neighbors are very concerned about their safety,” Patterson said. “They don’t feel safe, [and] they don’t feel that they can walk across the street to Georgia Avenue to do whatever they may want to do.”

There were several shootings across the city on Monday, and in Tuesday night’s incident in the 6200 block of Georgia Avenue, two suspects got out into traffic and fired shots toward young men standing near another car. One man, identified as 33-year-old Benjie Byers, was killed. Two other men and the 8-year-old were taken to the hospital.

D.C. police haven’t responded to WTOP’s request for an update on their conditions.

In a statement on Twitter, Ward 4 Council member Janeese Lewis George said the gun violence “should anger each and every one of us. It has no place in our city.”

Sometimes, when the neighborhood requests crime cameras, they deter crime temporarily but then are removed, Patterson said.

Candace Nelson, an area resident, said D.C. police used to have officers on Segway and foot patrol, who would offer their cellphone numbers to community members. Patterson said she was told bike patrol was eliminated as part of budget cuts.

D.C. police haven’t responded to multiple requests for information on the status of those initiatives.

“Do we feel comfortable now? No, we don’t,” Patterson said. “I can’t say we really ever felt comfortable on Georgia Avenue. Maybe 20 years ago, but not right now.”

Nelson, who lives across the street from where Tuesday’s shooting occurred, said in 2015, a bullet was shot through her bedroom window and that her car has been vandalized several times.

“This past year, my car was vandalized three times in a row,” Nelson said. “We’re talking about slashed tires and busted windows. A lot of us, we’re just outside and inside as quickly as possible, especially after it gets dark.”

Patterson and Nelson both said neighborhood restaurants and shops are concerned the violence may deter potential customers.

“Who’s going to want to stop by the Family Dollar if you know that you can’t just run in there and pick up something quickly?” Nelson said. “If I had a magic wand, I would definitely have people just care more about life and care more about one another.”

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