Over 200 rounds fired in 'sniper-type' Northwest DC shooting, police say

On Monday, D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee said while police don’t know the motive, they do know over 200 rounds were fired Friday from the fifth floor of a Van Ness St. NW apartment building where 23-year-old Raymond Spencer lived. 

Spencer sent shots toward the Edmund Burke School just before 3:20 p.m., injuring four people – including a 12-year-old girl. Two of the victims injured, Contee said, are in critical but stable condition. 

Chief Contee told reporters the suspect had access to over 800 rounds in the Van Ness St. apartment unit and had altered three of his guns, legally purchased, to become fully automatic rifles. This allows for rapid-fire with every pull of the trigger, instead of how a semi-automatic rifle operates, where just one round can be fired with each pull of the trigger. 

The police chief also confirmed the suspect is an area man. Spencer graduated from Montgomery County’s Wheaton High School, worked as a lifeguard at one point, and did a stint with the U.S. Coast Guard.

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The 23-year-old suspect reportedly had access to two apartments: one in Fairfax, Virginia, and the Van Ness-based unit in Washington D.C. 

Police said the Fairfax apartment was rented in February 2021. Parts to build three more firearms were found inside after police served a warrant on Friday. FOX 5 has learned the Van Ness apartment was rented this past January. Police said in all, Spencer had access to nine firearms (including the three parts discovered). 

Chief Contee said the suspect used a camera in the hallway to see when police were arriving and had an appliance, said to be a refrigerator, blocking the door. He also described some kind of "operation" being run out of the bathroom where a laptop was found.

The bathroom of the fifth-floor Van Ness apartment is where police said Spencer took his own life Friday evening. 

FOX 5 went to the Aspen Hill-area address found online where the suspect’s family is believed to live and where Spencer may have once stayed. Several neighbors tell FOX 5 they recognized Spencer’s photo in the news as one of the Montgomery County family’s at least three sons. However, one neighbor said he rejected the idea of a possible connection once police said they were looking for a 23-year-old out of Fairfax, Virginia.

The family mostly keeps to themselves, neighbors told FOX 5. One neighbor expressed grief for the four people injured and for the next-door family now mourning both this horrible crime and the death of their son. 


Chief Contee could not say on Monday whether there was any known mental health history or what may have been Spencer’s ideology. 

The "sniper-type" style shooting from last Friday comes on the heels of a crime wave that the District has been experiencing since the COVID-19 pandemic forced lockdowns, remote learning, and closures. 

Police said 10 shootings took place in the District from Friday to Saturday – one of them included a triple shooting on Kennedy St. NW that unfolded as police were investigating the shooting on Van Ness St. NW.