Shooting of 13-year-old Karon Blake not 'centered around race' says DC police

D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee broke his silence Tuesday, forcefully addressing misinformation surfacing around the investigation into the shooting death of 13-year-old Karon Blake. 

"We recognize the community's desire to get the details of this incident, but we must also acknowledge that the ongoing nature of the investigation prevents us from sharing specifics that could jeopardize the integrity of this case," Contee said during the first press conference held since the Saturday morning shooting.

"There's been too much misinformation swirling around this incident, too many people have made assumptions about this case, and it is unfair to the grieving family," he added, forcefully. "Spreading of inaccurate information is dangerous, reckless, and has the potential to adversely impact the investigation and the relationships in our community."

Contee confirmed the shooter is a Black man but stopped short of identifying the individual, claiming that is not uncommon in investigations such as this. The chief also confirmed the shooter is not law enforcement. 

"People are making allegations centered around race, and that is wrong," Contee said.

READ MORE: Council member wants DC resident who killed 13-year-old to be held accountable

A D.C. police report shows officers responded shortly before 4 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 7th, to the call of a juvenile shot by the 1000 block of Quincy St. Northeast. The scene is not far from Brookland Middle School and Turkey Thicket Recreation Center. The 13-year-old shot and killed attended Brookland Middle School.

According to investigators, the unidentified person confronted and shot Blake after claiming that he was breaking into several vehicles along the street. Investigators said, when officers arrived at the scene, they found the person performing CPR on the boy. Blake was taken to an area hospital after the shooting and later pronounced dead.

Chief Contee did not say 911 was called before the shooting. He identified the shooter as the person who notified police.

The chief would not say how many times the 13-year-old was shot or where: whether shot in the front or back. Contee also would not share any information on what happened after the shooter confronted the teen – and how that resident described the moments leading up to the shots fired, saying that is all part of the investigation.

FOX 5 asked what could make this shooting legally justifiable when it is illegal to use lethal force against a property crime in D.C. The Chief responded by explaining, "the person has to be in fear of their life or the life of another."

"Those are the facts that we have to sift through to figure out, ‘hey did that happen?’" Contee said. "And based upon the information we have, we'll present that information to a grand jury to see if that is reasonable. That’s not a Chief Contee call, that’s not a U.S. Attorney’s Office call. That’s a call that will be charged to the grand jury in the District of Columbia to make that argument."

Sources previously said it was difficult to get a warrant because the only account of what happened came from the shooter. Contee revealed on Tuesday, police are still collecting evidence in the case – speaking to how just Tuesday afternoon, MPD members were in communication with a community member regarding surveillance video.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia released this statement on Tuesday: The investigation into Karon Blake’s tragic death is ongoing.  As with any pending matter, it would be improper and imprudent to comment any further at this time.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia is committed to thoroughly investigating this matter.

Family of 13-year-old Karon Blake calls for justice after tragic death

Before the news conference, FOX 5 spoke with a man who identified himself as the paternal grandfather of 13-year-old Karon Blake. The family is calling for justice and for the shooter to immediately be arrested.

"It’s just sad. It don’t make no sense. Kids – I know kids out here wild’n out. They killing each other, black on black crime, but getting into a car or taking someone out of a person’s car, you don’t deserve to get killed," said Sean Long, who says he’s better known as "Ritchie Ritch" in the community.

He told FOX 5 to be completely honest, he hadn’t spoken with his grandson in a while. However, the grandfather told FOX 5 that when he did check in with Blake's mother, he was told he was doing better after having gotten into some trouble. The grandfather also responded to some of the comments being made regarding his grandson’s actions that morning.

"To take law in your own hands and just kill him because he out there messing around in a car — he out here stealing something out the store, he out here busting out the car window —  that don’t mean he deserves to get killed," he said. "Okay, there’s a lot of kids doing wrong. I did wrong when I was young, I ain’t die. It just don’t make sense. A lot of people comment saying, ‘Yeah they was breaking into cars. They doing this and that – they doing that stuff,’ but you can’t kill a person for that. And you can’t kill a person because they have a gun permit."

Mr. Long said he does not want to see more violence as the family now prepares for a funeral. He also expressed sympathy for the shooter, saying that man now has to live with the fact that he killed someone for the rest of his life.

The grandfather and family are still calling for the shooter’s arrest.