Private Security at Azeeze Bates Just Missed Monday Shooting

Security Arrangements Need Improvement Says Commissioner Gentile

27
The Azeris Courts Apartments building at 1515 F St. NE

A Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer employed as a private contractor had just completed his patrol of the Azeeze Bates housing complex immediately before the Aug. 1 evening shooting at 1515 F St. NE, management said.

The shooting resulted in the death of 24-year-old Lance Melvin and five other injuries.

“Our two dedicated Special Police Officers were in the north courtyard at Azeeze Bates near the 1515 building when the shots rang out from the South,” said Horning Brothers Vice President of Property Managmement Peter Larson. The development and management company has owned the property since it was first built in 1975, Larson said.

Horning Brothers was deeply saddened and distressed by the events at Azeeze Bates, said Larson, adding they had bee working with Metropolitan Police Department, DC Council and City agencies and would continue to do so.

Over the last few months residents in the area have experienced an increase in crime. Horning Brothers says they responded by expanding its security arrangements. “At MPD’s recommendation, we added two dedicated armed Special Police Officers in addition to the roving off-duty MPD Officers,” Larson said.

“The security, safety and well-being of our residents is our prime focus, and we are working hard to address the security challenges,” he added.

There are cameras monitoring the property that were already in place, said Larson. Two of them are operational. However, the others, recently vandalized, are in the process of being repaired, he said.

There has been a spate of violence in the area in the last few months. In March, a 16-year-old was killed a block south, on Isherwood Street NE. A 27-year-old man was shot at the site June 18. Residents reported hearing upwards of 50 shots fired in the area just a few days later.

On Aug. 1, MPD Chief Robert Contee was asked at the scene if a patrol car, sometimes stationed in the adjacent alley, would serve as a deterrent if it was regularly present. Contee said that police were in the area at the time of the shooting and arrived within a minute and provided life-saving efforts.

Police are present, he said. But more support is needed on the site. “We are not private security for private property,” MPD Chief Robert J. Contee said at the scene. “In this instance I am told that there is some type of private security firm or company that is responsible for this property; I have not seen them yet but I’ll be digging into that a little deeper.”

Contee was asked what he would say to residents who are tired of the violence.

“I’m tired of it [too],” Contee said, as helicopters flew overhead. “I’m angered and I’m saddened,” Contee said. “The residents didn’t deserve this. They do not deserve to have people shot in the communities where they live.”

Police said a large group of people were in the area when shots were fired. As yet, they have not yet established a motive or whether the shooters and victims knew one another. There was no current “look out” for the perpetrators. MPD is asking the public to share any related information or camera footage they might have.

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Laura Gentile (6A05) does not feel that security is adequate at the Azeeze Bates complex. She attended a meeting earlier in July at Azeeze Bates with Horning Brothers, MPD Captain Jerome Merrill and representatives from Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen’s office to discuss security improvements.

“More is needed,” Gentile said.

MPD currently offers a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone that provides information which leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for each homicide committed in the District of Columbia. Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the police at 202-727-9099. Additionally, anonymous information may be submitted to the department’s Text Tip Lineby sending a text message to 50411.