Nine killed in Washington area shooting

15:11, March 31, 2010      

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Investigators carry away a victim of a shooting in Washington D.C., capital of the United States, March 30, 2010. Nine people were killed and five others injured Tuesday night in what appears to be two drive-by shootings in southeast Washington D.C., police told Xinhua. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)

Nine people were shot Tuesday night in what appears to be two drive-by shootings in southeast Washington D.C., with at least three killed, police said.

Three suspects have been put in custody, they added.

The shootings involved two crime scenes, one on Galveston Street SW inside D.C. Police said an 18-year-old man was shot there. He was injured but his injuries were non-life threatening.

The other crime scene was near Brandywine St SE and S Capitol St SE. The shooting there caused multiple casualties. Police said eight people were shot there.

Police made conflicting statements regarding how many were dead. One officer said three were dead, while another said four were killed.

D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier said the gunmen drove by a group of people gathered on the pavement of S Capitol St SE at about 7:30 p.m (2330 GMT), and sprayed bullets into the crowd.

Local TV quoted authorities as saying all of the victims are in their 20s and 30s except one teenager. There are six male victims and three females.

The suspected shooters fled south into Maryland after the shooting. Police recovered an AK-47 assault rifle near the crime scene, which seemed to be tossed out of the suspects' car.

As police chased the suspects into Maryland, two of their patrol cars crashed in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Five police officers were slightly hurt.

Police said they detained three suspects and are still hunting a possible fourth suspect. They didn't give a motive for the shootings.

The shooting scene was cordoned off and there were at least five police vehicles parked near the scene. Several policemen walked back and forth to investigate the crime scene. A dead body in a white body bag was transferred on a trolley and loaded onto an ambulance.

The scene was filled with anger and sadness, with youths shouting expletives to reporters there. An elderly couple of African origin hugged together, crying. When a Xinhua reporter approached them to ask what they had witnessed, the old man replied, "it is my son, he is dead."

"Did they take out the body yet?" he kept asking. The old woman, apparently a victim's mother, was crying loudly and kept murmuring, "it's my son, it's my son."

Local media said the shootings appeared to be one of the most violent in Washington area in months with the largest number of victims since 1994.

Lanier said the police have made progress in stopping gang violence in the area. However, if the attacks turn out to be another gang retaliation, then "shame on all of us," he said.

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