Northeast DC shooting victims sue apartment building for negligence

Victims of a mass shooting in Northeast D.C. are now suing the apartment building where it happened, alleging management was negligent in protecting residents. 

The lawsuit comes as gunfire terrorized people yet again Monday night at Azeeze-Bates Apartments on 16th and F streets. The lawsuit was filed by four men shot on Aug. 1 in a shooting that left one dead and five injured. They are seeking $10 million each. 

 According to the lawsuit, one victim was an off-duty D.C. firefighter and another victim was shot six times and survived. 

"All of them have been traumatized," said Keith Watters, the attorney for the victims filing suit. "Many of them were out of work. They’re still going through rehabilitation, especially the young man that was shot six times." 

Watters said the apartment’s private security guards were already gone the night of the shooting and two security cameras focused on the shooting scene were inoperable. 

"When your cameras are not working and you know they’re not working, that tells me that you don’t care," Watters said.  

The lawsuit cites 121 incidents of violent crime within 1000 feet of the apartments in the last five years, including 11 homicides. Just before the August shooting, city leaders, including police, Councilman Charles Allen and two ANC commissioners, held meetings about safety with property management Horning Brothers.  

In an emailed statement Allen said: "While I can’t comment on specific and pending litigation, I have aggressively pushed for improved public safety measures to be taken at Azeeze-Bates to protect residents and tenants. When this area was previously in Ward 6, I was able to get Horning Brothers to install security cameras and even had to get the building management to open up to MPD officers that needed access to respond and help with public safety concerns. I’ll continue to work in collaboration to ensure the property owners take responsibility to provide safe and secure homes for all residents." 

On Monday night, residents said they heard an explosion of gunfire that shattered large glass windows in the front of one of the buildings just before 9:30 pm. According to a police report, someone possibly fleeing the gunfire broke into an apartment, running into the bathroom before leaving. The report said 15 shell casings were recovered in the courtyard. 

 FOX 5 spoke to several residents in the building who didn’t want to be identified and said management absolutely should do more to protect people from violence. 

 "No security plan is foolproof," Watters said. "But in this particular case, there’s been one violent episode after the other and nothing is changing as far as the security precautions." 

 FOX 5 reached out to Horning Brothers asking specifically about the surveillance cameras and security the night of the mass shooting. In response, Vice President of Property Management Peter Larson replied: "Thanks for reaching out.  We are unable to comment due to pending litigation." 

 D.C. police said no one has been arrested in the deadly mass shooting. No suspects have been identified or surveillance images released.