WASHINGTON - A 16-year-old boy who was shot and killed while defending himself during a robbery attempt on a Northeast D.C. street corner fatally wounded his attacker, according to police.
Officers say Zaire Kelly was a student at Thurgood Marshall Academy and was walking home from a convenience store near 13th Street and Downing Street Wednesday at about 9:15 p.m. when he was approached by the gunman.
Police say the attacker, identified as 19-year-old Sequan Gillis, was wounded by the teen who was able to stab him using a pocket knife he carried for self-defense. Gillis then shot and killed Zaire, according to officials.
"In the course of the robbery, the 16-year-old tried to defend himself. He happened to have a knife on him. He ended up stabbing the suspect in the robbery. The suspect then produced a firearm and ended up shooting and killing Zaire," DC Police Chief Peter Newsham explained.
Zaire and Gillis were both rushed to the hospital where they were both pronounced dead. Investigators say the crime appeared to be random.
Zaire was described as a scholar, athlete, friend and beloved classmate at Thurgood Marshall where he had just entered his senior year and was a captain on the track team. His friends said he was looking to attend Florida A&M University after he graduated.
"He brightened everyone's day. He's so happy all the time," Zaire's friend Daishai Kyle said. "He was a leader. The school loved him. They are letting everyone go (from school today) because everyone loved him. Nobody can take this day."
The school released a statement following his death:
"One of our students died tragically yesterday. He was a scholar, athlete, friend and beloved classmate. He was a shining star in our community and will be deeply missed. We have counselors onsite and available for students and any member of our community who needs or wants any type of assistance during this time of grief. We will continue to offer support throughout the coming days and weeks as our community processes this loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this time."
Neighbors told FOX 5 the park, which was about half a block from Zaire's home, has been nicknamed "Get Robbed Park" because so many robberies occur there. Neighbors said they've asked the city for more police and lighting in the area to help deter the robberies.