WASHINGTON - Police are searching for a man who stole a gun from a special police officer patrolling a Northeast D.C. grocery store.
Investigators say the theft happened at the Safeway store nearby Benning Road. It happened just as police and community leaders were finishing a safety walk a few blocks away in response to recent gun violence.
An officer at the scene told FOX 5 that the special police officer had confronted a shoplifting suspect trying to steal Tide laundry detergent at the grocery store. The two got into a scuffle and the special police officer's gun fell out of his holster. The suspect picked up the weapon and ran away from the store. The special police officer chased after the suspect, but got away.
About a dozen police cars and several K-9s responded to the scene as police spent about an hour searching for the gun thief.
DEVELOPING: DC Police still on scene with helo and K9, looking for suspect who stole a Special Police (security) officer's weapon. Told officer gave brief chase, man last scene in ally near Gales Pl. NE pic.twitter.com/uUKE1BYfko— Van Applegate (@vbagate) March 13, 2018
Man who witnessed the chase tells @LindsayAWatts Special Police officer was able to give @DCPoliceDept details about where suspect went. Police looking at area video surveillance. pic.twitter.com/ddHxabJ3jR— Van Applegate (@vbagate) March 13, 2018
Monday night's safety walk was organized by ANC commissioner Kathy Henderson. It was held after four people were shot in two days last week in this section of Northeast D.C.
On Thursday, one person was shot on I Street and three people were shot on their porch on 19th Street on Friday. There have been no arrests in either case.
Police said the triple shooting was especially brazen because there was a police car just feet away from where the victims were shot and the gunman was shooting from an alley across the street.
“I think it symbolizes how volatile this neighborhood has been lately,” said D.C. Police Commander William Fitzgerald. “There are police cars right there. It's out of view from the alley, but still people check it and they are still firing guns. So we are going to keep putting more and more resources here until we get a hang on it.”
“For those of us who are having our car windows shot out, having our houses shot at, who are outside – I was standing outside two weeks ago on Friday and you are just standing there and all of a sudden you hear [gunfire]. It's horrifying,” said resident Sydelle Moore.