Two adults and a child were shot Friday afternoon in the Van Ness neighborhood of Northwest D.C., prompting a major police response.
Hours later, police are still continuing to search for a suspect or suspects. Officers in tactical gear could be seen running in the area; others had their guns drawn as they evacuated residents of an apartment building on Van Ness Street NW.
Authorities were interviewing several witnesses but had no one in custody, they said about 5:40 p.m. Friday. Officers were seen escorting a man in handcuffs about an hour earlier, but an assistant police chief later said no one was in custody.
Several people who ran from the area due to the sound of gunshots were interviewed, Assistant Chief Stuart Emerman said.
“At this point we do not have any suspects in custody,” he said. “We are interviewing several witnesses. As would naturally happen during an incident like this, several individuals ran from the area, so we did stop several individuals to conduct witness investigations with them.”
“If they are not linked to the incident, yes, they will be released,” Emerman said.
The three victims were taken to hospitals, where they are being treated. The assistant chief said the two adult victims, a man and a woman, were in critical condition but were stable. The juvenile victim had a minor gunshot wound, police said.
“We have three of our residents that have been injured, and we are praying for their health and wellbeing,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said.
Residents of Apartment Building Evacuated by Armed Officers
As the tense situation unfolded, armed officers rushed to lead residents out of an apartment building on Van Ness Street. Some residents were running barefoot or in socks, video shows.
Officers appeared to be clearing residents in batches. Earlier, people walked; later groups were seen running.
People are running as they’re being evacuated from the area of the Ava Van Ness building, where the shooting investigation is ongoing @nbcwashington pic.twitter.com/1n4KXFy45l
The incident was centered in the 2900 block of Van Ness Street NW, police said, although they initially gave the location as the 4100 block of Connecticut Avenue NW, which is around the corner. Much of the activity seemed to be centered around the AVA apartment building on Van Ness Street off of Connecticut, with officers entering, exiting and staging outside.
A number of streets in the area are closed. Connecticut Avenue NW is closed from Porter to Albemarle streets. The busy neighborhood is home to a dense mixture of apartment buildings, restaurants, businesses, office buildings and schools.
Initial calls for help, which came in Friday about 3:20 p.m., reported an active shooter, police dispatch calls revealed. It wasn’t immediately clear whether that was the case.
Both Metropolitan Police Department and Secret Service officers were seen responding to the area, as well as FBI agents. Helicopters were heard flying overhead.
Two tanks carrying officers just arrived on scene. They had guns in hand and appeared to be using the tanks as shields to approach the Ava Van Ness apartment building @nbcwashington pic.twitter.com/JeNvpoZl31
Police advised people to avoid the area and shelter in place. There is a family reunification site at the Cleveland Park Library at 3310 Connecticut Avenue NW, police said.
A message sent from the Alert DC system warned people of an “active threat” and to “shelter in place if you are nearby.”
The University of D.C.’s Van Ness campus is on lockdown. Students and other members of the university community are advised to shelter in place.
The mother of a student at the nearby Edmund Burke School, a private school for grades 6-12, told News4 her son said he heard gunshots and then students took cover.
“We are literally ducking and hiding,” another father said as his child sheltered inside the school. He said he saw broken windows.
“This is the worst nightmare any parent can have,” said the father of two students at the school.
No shooter was ever inside the school, police said.
A Howard University law student was driving in the area with a friend when they heard the shooting begin.
“We heard gunshots go off so close to us that we stopped the car,” she said. “All the cars just stopped at a standstill. And then we all stopped; we didn’t know what to do …. And so we kept driving a little bit and then another round went off. And they just kept going off.”
“It was so many gunshots,” she said.