MPD Still Looking for Two Suspects in Gang Indictment

Two men named in yesterday’s 80-count gang indictment remain at large. The U.S. Marshals Service today released photos of Keir Johnson and Marcellus Jackson, part of a group believed to be responsible for shootings that left three dead and seven wounded in incidents going back to 2006.

Five other suspects named in the indictment are in custody on counts murder, drug and weapons charges.

MyFoxDC reports on reaction to the indictments, which police chief Cathy Lanier called an “important step forward in dismantling this ruthless gang and disrupting their reign of terror.”

Members of Columbia Heights Street Gang Indicted on Murder, Other Charges :

The US Attorney’s Office released the following statement today:

WASHINGTON - Seven alleged members of a criminal street gang based at 14th and Girard Streets in Northwest Washington have been indicted on charges stemming from a conspiracy to commit robberies, possess firearms, and threaten, assault and kill their rivals.

The indictment, returned by a grand jury in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, was announced today by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), and Ava A. Cooper-Davis, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Division Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to the indictment, members of the 14th and Girard gang, also known as G-Rod, 1-4, and the Cut Crew, were responsible for a series of violent attacks since 2006, including three murders and numerous shootings. The slayings included a murder of a rival in September 2010 that took place in broad daylight on a busy Northwest Washington street, after a funeral for another homicide victim.

The defendants, all from Washington, D.C., include: Lafonte Carlton, 21; Robert Givens, 19; Devyn Black, 22; Ricardo Epps, 22; Marcellus Jackson, 23; Keir Johnson, 21, and Lester Williams, 24. Carlton and Givens already were in custody awaiting trials for two of the homicides included in the indictment, and Black is in custody serving a sentence for a shooting in June 2009. Epps and Williams were arrested on December 5, 2011. Jackson and Johnson are still being sought.

The indictment followed an investigation by the Metropolitan Police Department and a Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force. The indictment, which was unsealed this week, includes a total of 80 felony counts, including 39 charges under a criminal gang statute passed by the District of Columbia Council in 2006. If convicted, the defendants face the potential of life prison sentences.

The chaotic string of violence alleged in this indictment culminated in the killing of a rival crew member along U Street in the middle of the day,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “This 80-count felony indictment demonstrates our commitment to aggressively targeting the gangs that are so often responsible for inflicting waves of retaliatory violence on our community.”

As alleged, these defendants were part of a dangerous and deadly criminal organization that used threats, intimidation, and extreme violence to protect their turf,” said Chief Lanier. “These indictments are an important step forward in dismantling this ruthless gang and disrupting their reign of terror.”

These indictments represent a success not only for law enforcement, but for the citizens of Washington D.C.,” stated Special Agent in Charge Cooper-Davis. “Drug trafficking and violence go hand in hand and too often impact the lives of law-abiding citizens. Today our communities are safer thanks to the efforts of law enforcement.”

According to the indictment, the 14th and Girard organization considered its turf to be the area centering on the 1400 block of Girard Street NW and the 1400 block of Fairmont Street NW, along with surrounding territory. The defendants and their associates sought to control this area and avoid detection and successful prosecution by law enforcement by obstructing justice through intimidation, threats and violence. The indictment alleges that members of the group threatened, assaulted or killed anyone whose interests were contrary to those of their organization, including people belonging to or associated with rival gangs.

The indictment states that members of the organization financed their operation through robberies and trafficking in controlled substances. The indictment includes details about numerous acts of violence to support and protect the illegal operation, including robberies and attempted robberies, as well as these murders:

- Murder of Paul Jones, January 9, 2009: Carlton, Black and Williams are charged with first-degree murder while armed (premeditated) in the slaying of 17-year-old Paul Jones, as well as assault with intent to kill while armed in the shooting of another victim. Carlton, Black and Williams are accused of chasing, shooting and killing Jones, who was associated with a rival crew, in the 1300 block of Columbia Road NW. Carlton previously was charged in this murder.

- Murder of Sean Robinson, August 11, 2010: Givens and Jackson are charged with first-degree murder while armed (premeditated) in the slaying of Sean Robinson, 19, as well as assault with intent to kill while armed in the shootings of two other victims. Jackson picked up Givens and another person on the evening of the shootings, which were carried out by Givens and an unnamed accomplice in the rear of the 2500 block of 17th and Euclid Streets NW, the indictment states. All three victims were associated with the neighborhood controlled by a rival crew, the indictment alleges. Givens previously was charged in this slaying.

- Murder of Jamal Coates, September 28, 2010: Jackson, Johnson and Williams are charged with first-degree murder while armed (premeditated) in the slaying of Jamal Coates, 21, as well as assault with intent to kill while armed in the shooting of two other victims. Williams and Johnson are accused of carrying out the shootings near the site of a funeral in the 1300 block of U Street NW. Jackson allegedly assisted in carrying out the crime. All three victims were members of a rival crew.

The indictment further describes efforts by some defendants to obstruct justice and attack rivals even while they were in custody, including a stabbing allegedly carried out on May 16, 2011 by Carlton against another inmate at a District of Columbia jail facility.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.

Working with its law enforcement partners, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia has placed a priority on combating gang violence. Last year, U.S. Attorney Machen created a special unit within the office’s Homicide Section to work on gang-related crimes.

In announcing the charges, U.S. Attorney Machen, Chief Lanier, and Special Agent in Charge Cooper-Davis thanked those who pursued the investigation from the Metropolitan Police Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, and other agencies, including the FBI/MPD Safe Streets Task Force and the U.S. Marshals Service. They also acknowledged the efforts of those working on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Todd Gee and Sharad Khandelwal, who are prosecuting the case.

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