WASHINGTON, April 22 (Reuters) – A gunman opened fire on random victims from a sniper nest in a building near an elite prep school in the nation’s capital on Friday, injuring four people, before killing himself as police closed in, officials said.

Police say the suspect, Raymond Spencer, 23, of suburban Fairfax, Virginia, was initially identified from a video he posted on social media that appeared to show gunshots shot from the vantage point of an upstairs window, with the label misspelled: “Shooting School!”

Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee told a late-night news conference that the video “seems completely authentic,” but it remained unclear whether the footage was live-streamed or had was published after its registration.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com


Police had issued a bulletin with photographs of Spencer hours earlier saying they were looking for him as a “person of interest” in their investigation.

The shooting and manhunt crippled the upscale Van Ness neighborhood in northwest Washington, adjacent to the Edmund Burke School, a private college preparatory academy, just as classes were on about to be interrupted for the day.

The school and other nearby properties were placed under security checks, with frightened students texting anxious parents as police staged a door-to-door search for the suspect.

With the help of eyewitness reports, police were able to locate the shooter on the fifth floor of a “particular building” and ultimately “breached the location where the suspect committed suicide,” Contee said.

Police seized more than half a dozen firearms, including several rifles, and large amounts of ammunition from the apartment, which had been arranged in a ‘sniper type configuration’ with a rack gun on a tripod, the chief said.

“His intent was to kill and injure members of our community,” but investigators have yet to determine a motive, Contee said, adding that the shooter acted alone.

The four victims were shot indiscriminately while “going about their business … on the streets of the District of Columbia,” he told reporters.

Three people hit by gunshots were taken to area hospitals – a 54-year-old man and a woman in her 30s with serious injuries, and a 12-year-old girl with an arm injury, the deputy chief of Police Stuart Emerman during an earlier briefing.

A fourth victim, a woman in her 60s, was treated at the scene for a minor abrasion, Emerman said.

Eyewitnesses told Reuters and local media that they heard several rapid bursts of gunfire. Contee said at least 20 shots were fired.

The late afternoon violence unfolded along a busy Connecticut Avenue corridor that is also home to several foreign embassies, Howard University’s Law School and a campus of the District University of Columbia.

Deaven Rector, 22, a law student, told Reuters he heard three bursts of gunfire that appeared to emanate from the AVA Van Ness building where he lives, and which was evacuated.

“At the moment the police have secured the area, and that’s for sure, but the fact that this type of chaos could be caused by a maniac on a normal Friday… The kids were about to get out of school “, did he declare.

Jennifer DiGiacinto told Reuters she learned of the shooting through a text message from her son, an 11th grader at Burke School.

“He said, ‘Something bad is going on, I need you to turn on the news.’ I said, ‘Why, what’s going on?’ And he said, ‘Gunfire, I’m under a desk, we’re barricaded.’ »

Local news footage showed Connecticut Avenue blocked by emergency vehicles. Dozens of police vehicles with flashing lights were parked outside the school building, as officers in full tactical gear and some in camouflage gear gathered nearby.

Local NBC affiliate WRC-TV showed evacuees from a building running down a sidewalk, some with their hands up.

Lamenting the trauma of gun violence that has become commonplace in the United States, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser told reporters: “Sadly, I had to look into the eyes of parents tonight who were terrified. And they were terrified thinking of what might happen to their children.”

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com


Reporting by Chris Gallagher in Washington; Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Daniel Trotta in Los Angeles; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Bill Berkrot, Rosalba O’Brien, Sandra Maler and William Mallard

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

About The Author

Related Posts