WASHINGTON - The shooting of a little boy playing outside of his Washington D.C. apartment 12 years ago really touched a nerve in the city. The police chief at the time was so angry that he offered a huge reward to find his killer. It is a reward that still stands today.
The murder of 9-year-old Donte Manning has never been solved, but the lead detective in the case says he came awfully close. Manning was an innocent bystander back in March 2005 when he was shot in the face on a sidewalk on 13th Street in Northwest D.C.
It was a case FOX 5 covered extensively back then. The bullet ended up getting lodged in the back of his head, according to police. After fighting for his life for over a month at the hospital, Manning died after being taken off life support.
The reward in this case shot up to $125,000.
"Every case that I have been involved in that particular neighborhood, an arrest was made without a problem, and this is the only case that I have been involved in that neighborhood where an arrest has not been made yet," Detective Mitch Credle for the Metropolitan Police Department's Major Case/Cold Case Unit said back in August 2006.
Eleven years later, Credle said he believes based on the information that they gathered, he believes he knows who was firing their weapon on the street that night in 2005 and who that person was shooting at.
"I believe we were close to making an arrest," he said.
Credle is now retired. He agreed to discuss this case with FOX 5 as long as names were not revealed.
"I do remember receiving a call and this individual telling me he had information in Donte Manning's murder," said Credle. "I talked to detectives in Virginia and detectives told me, 'Yes, he helped us close a murder, and yes, he was a witness in a case and his information was good.'"
Credle also said, "A lot of information did check out, but I couldn't find a set of eyes to help me confirm some of the things he was saying that occurred here that particular night."
The investigation hinged on the theft of a gun from a deputy sheriff's car. It is a service weapon the informant says was stolen by the man suspected of shooting Manning.
"He said once he stole the weapon, one day he responded to the area, the ABC building where Donte Manning was murdered - he went up there to buy drugs and while he was up there to buy drugs, he was robbed of that particular gun," Credle said. "He said the guy laid him down, took his money, took his gun and he left the area and never came back. At some point later, he found out the guy who robbed him was here in this neighborhood in front of the building where the murder occurred, so he told the informant that he came up here and saw the guy - he stood on the corner and fired shots at him - and at that time he did not know until later on in the news that a kid was shot during that particular time."
The stolen service weapon was now the key to the case.
"The gun was later recovered in the same area in the Third District, which was three blocks from where Donte Manning was shot," said Credle.
Credle said the people he has concluded that were probably involved are not currently walking the streets.
"Based on all of the information that I gathered during the investigation, those are the two people who at this particular point could bring some type of closure to this particular case, and one is doing 40 years-plus and the other one is doing life," the retired detective said.
Credle told us that this case still bothers him to this day.
"A lot people said Donte used to come down to the Boys and Girls Club where I was a volunteer, but I never met him personally that I can recall and it's always just [like], 'Why? Why it occurred?'" said Credle. "And for me to be the detective on the case, I couldn't bring closure to it in a neighborhood where I am rooted, where I know everyone. Man, this thing is going to haunt me forever. It really is and that's the truth."