D.C. businesses rocked by explosions, suspect on the loose

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Several Northeast Washington, D.C. businesses were randomly bombed with with explosive devices and a Molotov cocktail style object early Sunday morning. The suspect is on the loose.


According to the Metropolitan Police Department, the attacks happened just minutes apart. There were explosions at Truist Bank, Nike store, and a Safeway grocery store. Each site was damaged but there were no injuries reported. Police are seeking the help of the public in catching the suspect. A reward up to $20,000 is being offered as a reward.

The first incident happened at 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning when someone detonated an explosive device on the sidewalk outside the ATM at the Truist Bank on Washington Place NE and then fled the scene in a vehicle, MPD said.

Just minutes later, at approximately 4:36 a.m., the suspect detonated an explosive device on the sidewalk in front of the doors at the Nike Store on H Street.

The third offense happened at 4:45 a.m. when this time, the suspect threw a Molotov cocktail at the Safeway on 40th Street before fleeing.

Metropolitan police said that in all three incidents, it appears the suspect targeted commercial establishments but it did not appear the suspect targeted any members of the public.

Police have not released a motive for the attack or a description of a suspect. MPD offers a reward up to $10,000 to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the attacks. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Washington Field Division, is working in partnership with MPD and offering an additional $10,000, which brings the total possible reward to $20,000.


Violent crime is up in Washington, D.C. by 10% from the same time last year, which includes a 15% rise in homicides, according to information released in May.

Violent crime in cities across the country affects all its residents and that includes Washington, D.C. The principal of a charter school is advising the schools students to stay indoors this summer to stay safe. Four of the school’s teenage students have been murdered by gunfire over the course of the 2022-23 school year. So, now she is speaking out and telling them they must take measures to remain safe.

Mashea Ashton is the founder and chief executive of D.C.’s Digital Pioneers Academy. She has written four letters to parents and families, one after each student was killed. The first was Antione Manning who was killed in front o his Southeast Washington home on Halloween night. The second student was Jakhi Snider, a 15-year-old who was shot on his way to a Thanksgiving football game. Number three was DeMarcos Pinckney, age 15, who was shot and killed with his cousin on Father’s Day. The last teen killed was Jaylin Osborne, also 15, who was killed outside his family’s apartment last Tuesday.

“Right now,” she wrote, “the city is not safe.” She urged families to keep their children under close supervision during the day and indoors at night this summer.

“I remember the third letter and wanting to add a little more,” Ashton said, sitting in her office on 12th Street SE, the building that houses the school’s upper grades. But she was urged to keep it simple.

After Jaylin, however, her students said more needed to be done. “This is not okay. It is not okay that we lost four Black boys to gun violence this year,” Ashton said. That figure doesn’t include Keenan Anderson, a 10th-grade English teacher who suffered cardiac arrest after being forcibly restrained and Tasered by Los Angeles police while visiting family over winter break.


These kids are at-risk students, some are homeless, some in foster care or living in low-income households, and live in D.C.’s poorest wards. The charter school was recognized for outperforming other schools with similar demographics on standardized math and reading exams. The school is five years old and encourages kids normally shut out of computer science education to learn coding and game design. They receive inspiration to attend college and they are steered toward careers that will likely allow them to outearn their parents.

The reality is that the school is a microcosm for urban violence and the difficulties of keeping kids safe. The charter school principal had to take the unusual step of asking parents and guardians to do more to protect the kids than maybe they normally would. Writing letters announcing the deaths of students has taken a toll on her.

Without the structure of school, Ashton is fearing the worst. City leaders have presented a number of options — enrichment camps and job programs and summer school — but almost every year, summer proves to be a particularly dangerous time for children and teens. “We’re supposed to be relaxing and breathing,” Ashton said. Her own summers as a child were filled with butterflies and lightning bugs. “But instead, we’re bracing for the next 55 or so days.”

It’s why she invited the T.R.I.G.G.E.R. Project, a local effort to end gun violence, to campus this summer to hold sessions with students from Digital Pioneers and other schools. Outside a room where teens would study homicide maps, discuss trauma and learn to treat gunshot wounds, Ashton explained she’s constantly looking for partners in the community. “I’m just a school,” she said. “I’m angry. I cannot call another mother and tell her, ‘Tell me it’s not true.’”


She is asking for more counselors and nighttime programming for young people. “So either I’m not asking for the right thing or [the] city’s not — I don’t know. I could never have predicted four student deaths to gun violence in one academic school year.”

There are many elements that contribute to her dilemma. Homeless kids, foster children, the absence of fathers in families, the defund the police movement which teaches kids that the police are the bad guys, and there is a lack of infrastructure like public transportation that can take kids to summer programs to keep them in a structured setting. This is Biden’s America, though. This is happening in the city where the president lives. Ms. Ashton is trying to keep the kids alive so they can come back to school in the fall. Maybe Mayor Bowser could help work with her and get the school the resources it needs.

Dr. Jill professes to love teaching and her career as a community college English professor. Perhaps she could work with schools to help find ways to keep at-risk kids safe when school is out.

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David Strom 12:40 PM | July 23, 2024