WASHINGTON - A Democratic National Committee employee was fatally shot over the weekend just about a block away from his D.C. home.
Seth Rich was killed early Sunday in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Northwest D.C., police said. The 27-year-old man was gunned down in the 2100 block of Flagler Place at around 4:19 a.m. Sunday. A shot spotter heard the gunfire and alerted police. Rich was transported to the hospital where he died from his injuries.
Investigators believe this could have been a robbery attempt although nothing was stolen. No one witnessed the killing.
DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement regarding Rich's death:
"Our hearts are broken with the loss of one of our DNC family members over the weekend. Seth Rich was a dedicated, selfless public servant who worked tirelessly to protect the most sacred right we share as Americans - the right to vote. He saw the great potential of our nation and believed that, together, we can make the world a better place. He was a joy to have as a member of our team, and his talents, intelligence and enthusiasm will be deeply missed by the many friends, colleagues and coworkers who worked by his side in service to the highest ideals of our democracy. We send our deepest heartfelt sympathies to Seth's family, and we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers as we try to pick up the pieces and carry on the work that was so important to Seth and to us."
Police officers and cadets canvassed the neighborhood Monday evening handing out flyers and hoping for a break in the case that has shaken this D.C. community.
"Right now, I think we are in a state of shock because of the death of this young man," said one resident. "People used to feel very, very at ease until this period - the last five, six months."
But neighbors said the violence has spiked, especially in nearby construction zones where DC Water has been working on flood relief. Just last week, a Howard University student was robbed at gunpoint.
"I was walking through this construction area, and as soon as I got into the construction area, there was a spotter that walked past me on my left," said Brandon Alexander. "As soon as he passed me on my left, the shooter came out of basically the construction area with a gun, put it to my face and basically took everything I had."
"They made me turn off [the] Find My iPhone [app], they made me turn off basically all the security protocols on my phone," Alexander added, saying this all lasted about a minute and a half to two minutes.
Following the murder on Monday morning about a block away, another attempted robbery happened inside an occupied home. A resident of the home was able to scare away the would-be thieves. She was able to capture photos of the suspects on her phone.
DC Water CEO and general manager George Hawkins said in a statement regarding the recent crimes in the Bloomingdale neighborhood:
I am deeply saddened to hear about the recent street robberies and the shooting death of a resident in Bloomingdale. I know the fear that such acts engender - I was held up at gunpoint several years ago in a nearby neighborhood - and members of the community are rightly concerned about these horrific crimes. We are also concerned for the safety of our workers who are in the neighborhood every day building critical new infrastructure to safeguard Bloomingdale against flooding.
We have strived to be good neighbors during our First Street Tunnel project, and we will uphold that commitment until the work is done later this summer. I have called Chief Lanier to offer our assistance to try and deter crime in Bloomingdale. I have also asked our team to explore any and all measures to enhance security around our construction sites in the neighborhood. Working with the project's contractors, we are taking the following actions:
-- Checking and repairing lighting - During the project, lights were added to better illuminate sidewalks around our construction staging areas. Residents have reported some of these lights are out. Electricians are checking to ensure the lights are functioning properly, and if not, making the necessary repairs.
-- Improve visibility - Beginning immediately, workers are removing the noise blankets that shield nearby homes from the construction areas. This will hopefully increase visibility and eliminate blind spots that could allow criminals to surprise victims or escape capture. The blankets can be rehung as needed for noise suppression during heavy construction.
-- Additional patrols - DC Water is working to supplement security around the construction staging areas. This will include off-duty police officers or private security personnel.
-- Free transportation for residents - The tunnel project continues to offer free rides in the neighborhood on request for residents who call the 24 hour hotline at 1-844-FST-INFO [1-844-378-4636].
No one should have to fear walking down the street in their own neighborhood. We will continue to work with MPD to respond to this very troubling and tragic series of crimes.
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.