Boy, 15, killed, 3 people injured in shooting after unpermitted event, DC authorities say

A 15-year-old boy was killed and a police officer was among three other people who were injured when someone opened fire in a crowd after an unpermitted music gathering Sunday night in Washington, DC, authorities said.

The three surviving victims, including a Metropolitan Police Department officer, were stabilized at medical facilities, officials said at an evening news conference. The officer was shot in a leg, Chief Robert J. Contee III said.

The attack was the work of one person, not in custody, who opened fire as police were clearly in the area, Contee said. He did not indicate that the officer was specifically targeted, noting only that it the street was crowded.

The violence was reported near 14th and U streets Northwest, authorities said. It was near an event called Moechella, which celebrates go-go, a genre of music that originated and is still popular in Washington.

Earlier at the event, authorities said, something prompted people to flee, and some were injured, police said. Contee said the event was shut down at that point, but he also indicated that crowds remained in the area.

Contee indicated that police were patrolling the festival and its aftermath in abundant numbers — with more than 100 officers assigned to the area, he said.

Moechella founder Justin Johnson, also known as Yaddiya, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. He’s a noted artist, activist and go-go booster. Last year a photo book he helped curate, “Long Live GoGo: The Movement,” was published as a celebration of the percussive sound.

The genre’s most famous single, “Da Butt” by EU (Experience Unlimited), was featured in Spike Lee’s second film, “School Daze,” in 1988.

The event is widely known in music circles, and it was mentioned in the city’s alternative weekly newspaper, City Paper, on Thursday. The District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency, a federal entity, is featured on a Moechella flier as a supporter. A spokesperson for the agency didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

In June 2020, a DC Council member, Robert White, said he marched with Johnson during a Black Lives Matter demonstration, noting that Johnson is the leader of the group associated with Moechella, Long Live GoGo.

In 2018 the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation boasted that it “hosted” a Moechella event it described as “a festival filled with gardening activities, craft building workshops and live performances by local artists for students,” according to a department performance report that included accomplishments and goals.

It wasn’t clear whether the unidentified teenager who died in the shooting later was targeted. Contee, the chief, said crowded sidewalks and streets and too many guns create conditions for such violence.

“When things spill out into the street,” he said, “… that becomes a problem.”

He said officers in the area seized multiple illegal guns Sunday.

Contee said police will look into the origins of the event and why it allegedly was able to take place without city approval. “We’ll be having those conversations with the office of the attorney general” of Washington, he said.

Mayor Muriel Bowser appeared somewhat astonished at the brazen actions of the shooter with officers in the area.

“We have a child who was killed today at an event that did not have any proper planning for the number of people who were here,” she said.

“We need some accountability,” she said.

Lindsey Pipia and Suzanne Ciechalski contributed,

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