Vigil held for slain DNC staffer in Bloomingdale

- A Northwest D.C. community gathered for a vigil Wednesday night to remember a Democratic National Committee employee killed during what may have been a botched robbery in the Bloomingdale neighborhood.

Residents are very concerned about the crime spike in their community. Even though the police chief is touting robberies being down in the city, robberies in this neighborhood are up 80 percent compared to last year.

Wednesday night’s vigil was held outside of Seth Rich's house. The 27-year-old man was gunned down just a block away from his home early Sunday morning. No witnesses have come forward, and so far, there is no surveillance video that shows any trace of a suspect.

According to police sources, help for Rich arrived almost immediately. He was still conscious after being shot twice, but was unable to provide first responders any sort of suspect description. Based on preliminary evidence and bruises on Rich's body, it appears he fought for his life and his murder was a result of a botched robbery.

Neighbors said the police response has been reactive after the murder, but it should have had a stronger presence when a constant stream of armed robberies began to take place on these same streets.

“I have only seen more police presence since the sad, tragic event of the murder,” said Bloomingdale resident Andreas Stargard. “Again, even that is only a police presence in marked cruisers with their blue and red lights on, which to me is absolutely pointless.”

“Seth’s parents don’t want to see people blamed and point fingers,” said D.C. Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5). “What they want is justice. They want it swiftly. They want the Metropolitan Police Department to thoroughly investigate this crime.”

When asked about the neighborhood’s concern about the increase in robberies and the lack of police presence before the murder happened, McDuffie said, “The bottom line is nobody should lose their life the way that Seth Rich lost his life. Anytime we see a homicide like this, it’s a failure on some part of our system. At the end of the day, we need to make sure that the system is functioning properly so that crimes like this get prevented.

“Law enforcement has a very important part of that role. But at the end of the day, we need to make sure that we are focusing our resources as well as on prevention.”

Some residents pointed out to construction areas in the neighborhood as unlit areas where suspects are believed to be hiding. Since Rich’s murder, DC Water, whose workers have been working on flood relief in their construction zones, has put up lights to try and make the area more visible.

Detectives continue to pursue leads by reviewing surveillance video, including these construction sites, and are also looking closely at forensic evidence from past robberies and burglaries in hopes of a break in the case.

There is a $25,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the deadly shooting of Rich. Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the police at 202-727-9099. Anonymous information may be submitted to the department's TEXT TIP LINE by text messaging 50411.

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