WASHINGTON (AP) — Police arrested a D.C. city employee Tuesday over the fatal shooting of a 13-year old that has roiled community passions.
Jason Lewis, a longtime Parks and Recreation Department employee, turned himself in Tuesday morning to face charges of second-degree murder while armed. Lewis shot Karon Blake on Jan. 7, around 4 a.m., across the street from the middle school Blake attended.
The shooting prompted a fierce community response, with Metropolitan Police Department chief Robert Contee facing intense public pressure to either arrest the shooter or reveal their identity.
“The investigation took the amount of time that it needed to take,” Contee said Tuesday. “There was somewhat of a self-defense claim that needed to be overcome.”
The charges don’t hinge directly on the shots that killed Blake, but rather to an earlier gunshot that Lewis didn’t mention to police in his initial statement. The arrest warrant acknowledges that Blake was part of a group of youths apparently robbing parked cars, and that Blake apparently ran straight at Lewis before he opened fire from his property.
But it charges Lewis with setting off the violent chain of events with an earlier shot that he fired — one which Contee said ”was not part of the initial discussion that we had,” when Lewis made his initial statement to police
Contee said multiple residents on the block came forward with video evidence from their own security cameras. The arrest warrant delves into a chilling level of detail from that footage, including Blake pleading after he was shot.
“The decedent (Blake) can then be heard yelling, ‘I am sorry’ numerous times, followed by ‘Please don’t’ and ‘No’ numerous times. The decedent yells, ‘I am a kid’ and ‘I am only 12’ numerous times,” it states.
Contee encouraged the youth who were with Blake that night to come forward to police with their own testimony. But he stopped short Tuesday of promising any sort of amnesty from criminal charges.
“My assessment is that these young men obviously need some sort of intervention,” he said. “Ï want to make sure they get what they need.”
A statement from Lewis’ attorney, Lee Smith, maintained his innocence and said, “While this is certainly a tragedy, once all the facts are heard, I believe that a jury will find that there was no crime here.”