Robert Contee, chief of police in Washington, D.C., was visibly angry during a Tuesday news conference during which he confirmed that the homeowner who fatally shot a 13-year-old black male amid a 4 a.m. confrontation over car break-ins also is black — and that “misinformation” about the case and “allegations centered around race” are putting innocent people in danger.
Specifically, WTTG-TV reported that a group posted a photo of a white man and a picture of Karon Blake — the teen who was fatally shot — implying that the white man is the one who pulled the trigger.
“The fact that there’s misinformation swirling out there, and people are tying it to race and other things and putting images of innocent people out there next to young Karon saying that ‘this is the person that’s responsible for that’ — that’s reckless, and that’s dangerous,” Contee said with a raised voice. “Imagine if that was your picture beside his, and people showed up at your house with half information. That’s unacceptable.”
He also said “people are making allegations centered around race, and that is wrong” and emphasized that “spreading of inaccurate information is dangerous, reckless, and has the potential to adversely impact the investigation and the relationships in our community.”
What’s the background?
WTTG said in a video report that’s part of its original story that the unidentified homeowner confronted Blake and two other juveniles in the 1000 block of Quincy Street in the northeast section of the nation’s capital after seeing cars being broken into just before 4 a.m. Saturday.
The station said Blake was shot multiple times, and there was no indication he was armed. But investigators said arriving officers found the homeowner performing CPR on the teen, who was taken to a hospital and later pronounced dead.
Police also found a car on Quincy Street that had been reported stolen, and cops believe the 13-year-old used it, the station said.
Karon BlakeImage source: WTTG-TV video screenshot
Investigators believe two other juveniles were also involved in the incident, WTTG said, adding that a neighbor in the area said those two juveniles tried fleeing the scene in a vehicle before bailing out in an alley and running off.
Investigators said the homeowner is cooperating with authorities and that the gun used in the shooting is legally registered, WTTG reported, adding in a separate story that the homeowner possesses a registered concealed carry permit.
Contee did not say 911 was called before the shooting, but he identified the man who pulled the trigger as the person who notified police, WTTG noted in its story about the chief’s press conference.
The station also said Contee wouldn’t share any information about what happened after the man confronted the teen or how he described the moments leading up to the fired shots.
At the press conference, WTTG asked Contee what could make this shooting legally justifiable when it’s illegal to use lethal force amid a property crime in D.C. — and he replied that “the person has to be in fear of their life or the life of another.”
Furious residents sound off at community meeting
Hundreds of people showed up Tuesday night to a community meeting, sounding off about the shooting and demanding answers about the shooting and the identity of the man who pulled the trigger, WTTG said in a separate story.
“He should’ve been taken into custody. He should’ve been questioned, and we should have the identity right now,” one woman said, according to the station.
The Associated Press said area resident Tracey Lucas during the meeting accused police of being soft in the face of what she said was vigilante violence against a young black man — and even compared the shooting to the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.
“I don’t see why you are protecting his name,” Lucas said, according to the AP. “Knowing who the killer is does not breach this investigation.”
Before Contee’s news conference, WTTG said it spoke with a man who identified himself as Blake’s paternal grandfather.
“It’s just sad,” Sean Long told the station. “It don’t make no sense. … I know kids out here wild’n out. They killing each other, black-on-black crime, but getting into a car or taking someone out of a person’s car, you don’t deserve to get killed.”
Long added to WTTG that “to take law in your own hands and just kill him because he out there messing around in a car — he out here stealing something out the store, he out here busting out the car window — that don’t mean he deserves to get killed. Okay, there’s a lot of kids doing wrong. I did wrong when I was young, I ain’t die. It just don’t make sense. A lot of people comment saying, ‘Yeah they was breaking into cars. They doing this and that – they doing that stuff,’ but you can’t kill a person for that. And you can’t kill a person because [you] have a gun permit.”
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser in a Wednesday press conference said the man who fatally shot Blake is a city employee who has been placed on administrative leave and that he’s not a police officer or involved in public safety, the AP reported.
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