Friday, March 31

Raymond Spencer left an online footprint after D.C. shooting

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An hour after a man fired shots indiscriminately in the Van Ness neighborhood on a busy Friday afternoon, Raymond Spencer updated the Wikipedia page for the nearby Edmund Burke School.

“A gunman shot at the school on April 22, 2022,” Spencer wrote. “The suspect is still at large.”

Police later identified Spencer from Fairfax, Va., as a person of interest in the shooting before announcing that a suspect was found dead that night in a nearby Van Ness apartment surrounded by firearms and ammunition.

On Saturday, D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III said the gunman fired more than 100 rounds from a long gun, and he confirmed reports that bullet holes were being found in buildings in the area.

“There are probably going to be a lot of bullet holes we’re going to find,” he said. “That investigation will be going on for a while.”

Contee on Friday all but said Spencer was the gunman they were seeking, declaring that law enforcement officers were no longer searching for Spencer after they discovered the suspected gunman had killed himself as tactical officers breached his door.

Police said four were injured in the shooting in the Van Ness area, including a man in his 50s, a woman in her 30s, another woman who was grazed by a bullet and a 12-year-old girl.

By Saturday morning, little was known about the suspect. Authorities did not say whether the gunman was targeting Burke, whether he attended or had any affiliation to the school, or what ties he had to the Van Ness neighborhood. But authorities indicated that Spencer’s online footprint provided insight into the shooting that sent one of the busiest avenues in D.C. into panic and launched armored vehicles and helicopters into the area during a frantic search for the gunman.

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Law enforcement officials with knowledge of the investigation said investigators examined social media posts attributed to a user named Raymond Spencer online, including 4chan, an online message board with millions of users. The user wrote, “Dear God please forgive me,” in one message, four minutes after shots were reported.

Suspect in shooting that injured 4 found dead, officials say

The following posts seemed to taunt police, “They’re in the wrong part of the building right now searching XD.” Later, the user wrote: “Waiting for police to catch up with me.”

Contee said a graphic video posted online Friday showing what appears to be the shooting is authentic, though it is unclear when it was posted. The video shows the Burke school’s glass walkway covered in posters from its recent financial aid auction, themed after the game Clue. The sound of gunfire erupts, and one of the glass panels shatters.

On Wikipedia, Spencer, last updated his user page on Friday at 3:58 p.m., just after the shooting. The page said he was an “a AR-15 aficionado” in his biography.

His relatives could not be immediately reached. In Fairfax County, police Friday night also awaited at Fair Lakes Circle, at location believed to be Spencer’s home.

“We have identified a possible residence and are closely monitoring this location,” Fairfax County police said in a statement.

The Friday afternoon shooting rocked a residential neighborhood in Washington. Just before 3:30 p.m., police cars streamed down Connecticut Avenue, and surrounding schools went into lockdown. Parents of students sheltering in place at nearby schools feared the worst, and police officers on foot shouted at passersby to “move” and “get down.”

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In a letter to the city, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) called the shooting Friday a “heartbreaking day for our community” and decried the continued gun violence in the District.

“Unfortunately, tonight, I looked into the eyes of parents who were terrified, and they were terrified thinking of what might happen to their children,” the mayor said in her letter. “This epidemic of gun violence in our country, the easy access to firearms — it has got to stop.”

She wrote of children in the community who sheltered in place for hours and residents who were escorted out of their homes by police.

“Four people, including one child, were hit by gunfire in one short but devastating act of violence — the second of four shootings in our city today,” Bowser said. “All of this because a person who had no business having a gun got access to one and used it to terrorize a school community.”

Photos: The scene following the shooting on Connecticut Avenue

The suspect was found on the fifth-floor in the AVA Van Ness apartment building, which faces the Burke School, where police believe he may have fired from an apartment balcony, Contee said. The chief said the apartment had a “sniper-like setup” and that a tripod was found among the weapons and ammunition there. It was unclear early Saturday whether Spencer lived there, in addition to the home in Fairfax, or what his affiliation was at the AVA.

The man shot himself, according to two individuals familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the ongoing investigation.

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Jackie Rollins, who lives in the AVA apartment building on the floor below the shooter’s, said she was watching something on Netflix when she heard the shots fired but wasn’t sure what it was.

“I heard the shots, but I didn’t realize they were shots, because I never heard a gun other than on the TV or a movie,” Rollins, 57, said. “And it wasn’t until my grandson — I guess he saw something on the news — and that’s how I found out.”

She turned on the local news, whose cameras kept showing her building, and then she saw heavily armed police on the street nearby. A little later, police told her she would have to evacuate the building soon. She said she has lived in the building about 18 months and had seen the alleged shooter a few times but didn’t know much about him.

“I just can’t fathom how you have so little regard for human life,” she said.

About 10 p.m., Rollins was still waiting for police to allow her and several other building residents to go back in.

“It’s a great place,” she said. “This the first of anything like this and, hopefully, the last.”

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