Less than an hour after Prince George’s County police announced Tuesday that they expect to make a quick arrest in the killing Monday of a county student, another teen was killed — adding to calls for an end to youth violence.
Around 5:35 p.m. Tuesday in the 3700 block of Donnell Drive in Forestville, an 18-year-old Suitland High School freshman was shot and killed; another teen was also shot and is “in grave condition,” county police said. The identity of the slain teen had not been released Tuesday night, said Cpl. Larry Johnson, a county police spokesman.
The shooting Tuesday occurred shortly after a press conference at 5 p.m. regarding the fatal shooting Monday of another county teen. Around 4:20 p.m. Monday, police responded to the 4000 block of 28th Avenue in Hillcrest Heights to find Suitland High School freshman Charles Walker Jr. suffering from a gunshot wound to his upper body, according to police. Walker, 15, died shortly after being taken to a hospital, police said.
Walker was the fifth county public schools student slain this school year, which has put a spotlight on student behavior and the efforts from law enforcement agencies to calm the violence.
Walker was walking alone in his neighborhood with a shopping bag containing a new pair of Timberland shoes when he was approached by several individuals, a police source said. When the suspects demanded his shopping bag, Walker refused and began to run away but he was shot once in his back while fleeing, the police department source said.
The pair of shoes was recovered from the scene, and Police Chief Mark Magaw said he believes the suspects never looked inside the bag after the shot was fired.
According to police, detectives have received several substantial leads from the county’s Crime Solvers anonymous tip line at 866-411-TIPS, which is why they expect to close the case soon.
In addition to the two Suitland student homicides this week, four other Prince George's County Public Schools students have been killed this school year.
Friendly High School student Marcus Jones, 16, was shot while leaving a birthday party in Fort Washington around midnight Jan. 19.
Eliezar Reyes, 14, was attending Foundations School in Largo, county school officials said. Reyes was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting in Lewisdale after midnight Dec. 5, 2012.
Capitol Heights 18-year-old Marckel Ross, a junior at Central High School, was shot on his morning walk to school Sept. 11, 2012.
On Aug. 22, 2012, 17-year-old Amber Stanley was the victim of the first student homicide this school year when she was gunned down inside her Kettering bedroom. She was a senior at Charles H. Flowers High School in Springdale.
The Jones and Reyes slayings were both gang-related, Prince George’s police have said, and arrests have been made in both cases.
During a news conference to announce details in the Walker slaying, police also mentioned there was a break in the Ross homicide investigation, but declined to provide details.
Prince George’s State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks and Magaw said they are looking to switch the focus from arresting and prosecuting to partnering with community organizations and other county agencies to end youth violence.
“When five high school students are killed in one academic year, we all demand justice,” Magaw said. “Our resolve to engage the necessary partners that involve interfaith groups and nonprofit organizations is necessary in the fight to reduce violence among young people.”
Alsobrooks said prosecuting criminals is no longer enough and urged parents to be more involved in curbing violent behavior, in addition to county efforts.
“I am enraged that young people cannot walk down the street with a shopping bag without being shot in the back,” she said. “We need to make sure we will wrap our arms around these young people.”
Michael Blow, head of school security for PGCPS, echoed the public safety officials’ sentiments and said the school system has already been taking measures to curb student delinquincy, which he said can stem from disputes outside of school grounds.
He said about two months ago, school officials began training each school’s security officers on issues such as conflict resolution, bullying and cyberbullying, things that security officers were not previously trained to handle.
After Walker’s death, Briant Coleman, a county schools spokesman, issued a statement.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of one of our students. These senseless acts of violence against our children are becoming all too familiar and far too common,” he said in the statement. “We extend our deepest condolences to the student’s family and friends during this very difficult time.”
He said grief counselors have been made available to assist students, teachers and staff.