WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - DC Police are searching for five suspects who were seen on video riding ATVs and were involved in a shooting on Sunday in Southeast.
The shooting happened this past Sunday evening on the 2600 block of Branch Avenue SE. It was a little before 8 p.m. Police said the victim was traveling southbound in front of this location. Police also described a verbal altercation between the victim and suspects.
The man shot in this incident tells FOX 5 there was little conversation and described being ambushed by five to six riders who he claimed, surrounded his car as he was driving on Branch Avenue SE.
"One of them, you know came out. Like basically left the bike, punched me while on the driver side, and then I tried to get away, and they shot at me," the victim in the shooting told FOX 5. The victim asked not to be identified.
He told FOX 5 that he kept driving until he found two officers at the Iverson Mall and stopped for help.
PHOTO: DC Police
The victim said he was shot in the ankle and will need surgery.
"I asked police why they don't chase them and found out probably in 2018 or 2019, I'm guessing a politician, they don't want them to follow them because one of them ended up dying because of a police chase. So, I don't know. I feel like, I don't know [why] any criminals, you know, get more protection than good citizens," the victim said.
Apparently, another driver on Branch Avenue that night saw the incident and started filming on their cell phone. D.C. Police shared a copy of that video, and they were able to capture multiple suspect images. In the video, it appears there are at least three illegal ATV riders, an illegal dirt bike rider and someone on a scooter.
D.C. Police are offering up to $10,000 in reward money for any information leading to an arrest.
Not everyone associates illegal riders with criminal activity. However, in the Southeast neighborhood where the shooting occurred, illegal ATV and dirt bike riding along with complaints of lawlessness around them, is a long-standing issue.
"Gunshots go off all the time here and police are always an hour behind the fact," said a neighbor who asked not to be identified, "I don't think they do anything about it. I mean, I've been riding along Branch Avenue and the ATVs cut in and out of traffic. Police can be right there. They do nothing."
"Let me just be clear," said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, "ATVs are off-road vehicles. So, by definition, they're illegal on the road. And they're dangerous. Some of the stunts we see people doing, they think it's fun and games, but it could cause a driver or pedestrian to get hurt. They could be hurt."
When FOX 5 asked the mayor about this on Wednesday, she responded by saying that she tasked the police chief with "resetting" their approach — which he's been spending weeks researching.
The shooting appears to have taken place in an area not far from Ward 7 Councilmember Vincent Gray's home. His office said the councilmember is also looking into how to potentially strengthen the legal penalty among other ways to support enforcement.
Police said anyone with of this incident should take no action but call police at (202) 727-9099 or text your tip to 50411.