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Gay murder victim knew juvenile arrested in his slaying

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A 17-year-old D.C. male charged with the Jan. 10 shooting death of gay Maryland resident Gordon Rivers told police he knew the man and invited him to the location where Rivers was shot during an alleged botched robbery, according to a police affidavit.

William X. Wren was ordered held without bond during a Jan. 29 arraignment in D.C. Superior Court on charges of first- and second-degree murder and assault with intent to kill while armed, all in connection with River’s death.

Rivers, 47, a resident of Brandywine, Md., was found laying in the street suffering multiple gunshot wounds in front of 2641 Naylor Road, S.E., at about 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 10 by an off-duty police officer, says the affidavit.

It says police arrested Wren after he voluntarily appeared at the police homicide squad office for an interview Jan. 28. It says Wren told detectives he knew Rivers and contacted him by phone to invite him for a visit near where Wren lived in Southeast D.C.

According to the affidavit, Wren allegedly shot Rivers inside Rivers’ car during a robbery shortly after Rivers drove to the area in his black Cadillac on Jan. 10.

The U.S. Attorney’s office charged Wren as an adult, resulting in the release of the three-page arrest affidavit that details the case against him. But the affidavit does not disclose whether Rivers’ sexual orientation was a factor in his murder or the nature of his relationship with Wren.

Benjamin Friedman, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said the investigation into the murder is continuing and neither his office nor the police could provide additional details, such as how Rivers and Wren met each other.

People who knew Rivers told DC Agenda he was a regular customer of the D.C. gay bar Bachelor’s Mill, located near the Washington Navy Yard, which is about five miles from the area where he was killed.

One Bachelor’s Mill customer who knew Rivers said Rivers never mentioned having any ties to the Naylor Road, S.E., neighborhood where he was shot. However, the customer noted that the Naylor Road area is along the route Rivers would take to drive from his home in Brandywine to Bachelor’s Mill.

A law enforcement source said an area near where Rivers was shot has been known as a clandestine cruising spot for men seeking other men for sex.

The affidavit says the off-duty officer heard gunshots and observed “muzzle flash” from within a black Cadillac parked on the 2600 block of Naylor Road. It says the officer saw a youth, later identified as Wren, leave the car via the front passenger door while carrying a handgun. The youth then fled the scene.

“The officer observed a male subject, who was later identified as 47-year-old Gordon Rivers, exit the driver’s side door and walk to the rear of the vehicle where he collapsed,” says the affidavit.

Police said Rivers was taken by ambulance to Washington Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead less than an hour later.

According to the affidavit, Wren voluntarily appeared at the police homicide office Jan. 28 and agreed to be interviewed about the case.

It says his appearance followed an earlier interview by homicide detectives of a witness who told detectives he knew Wren. The witness told detectives he overheard Wren and another man, whom police identify only as an “accomplice,” talk about robbing someone, says the affidavit.

It says the witness told police he saw the accomplice hand Wren a pistol moments before Wren entered Rivers’ car. According to the affidavit, the witness said he heard the sound of multiple gunshots coming from inside the car a short time later. It says the witness then saw Wren exit Rivers’ Cadillac and flee the scene.

The affidavit says that in the days following the murder, the witness reported hearing Wren say he shot Rivers “during the botched robbery attempt.”

The affidavit says Wren told detectives during his Jan. 28 police interview that he lives with the mother of his children on the 2400 block of S St., S.E., which is close to where he arranged to meet Rivers on the day of the shooting. He arranged to meet Rivers “for the purpose of robbing him of money and marijuana,” the affidavit says he told the detectives.

It says Wren told detectives he entered Rivers’ car unarmed with the intent that his accomplice would enter the car a short time later with a gun, and the two would carry out the robbery. But according to Wren, Rivers pulled out his own gun when Wren told him “not to move,” and the two men got into a struggle over the gun.

“William Wren said that he took the decedent’s gun,” says the affidavit. “Then, he and the decedent fought over the gun. During the struggle, the gun went off and the decedent was shot multiple times. William Wren said that he exited the vehicle while still in possession of the decedent’s gun and fled on foot.”

During the arraignment, defense attorney Ronald Horton challenged the credibility of the witness who told police Wren was in possession of a gun as he entered Rivers’ car. Horton asked Judge-Magistrate Karen Howze to approve a motion to dismiss the case due to lack of sufficient evidence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Tonolli, the prosecutor in the case, disputed Horton’s assessment. He said the evidence was strong and overwhelming and the witness was reliable — and that Wren’s claim that the gun belonged to Rivers lacked credibility.

Howze denied the defense motion, saying she found “substantial probability that Mr. Wren did commit this offense.” She denied a second motion by Horton that Wren be released into the custody of his mother, ordering that Wren be held without bond.

She set a preliminary hearing for Feb. 10, where Judge Herbert Dixon would take over the case and determine whether Wren was eligible for release while awaiting trial.

“The motive sounds like robbery, and it’s unclear if the victim was killed because he was gay,” said Dale Edwin Sanders, a gay attorney who practices criminal law in D.C.

“One unanswered question is whether the police found any pot in the car or in the possession of the victim,” Sanders said. “If there was no pot, the police would have to look closer at a possible gay angle. What brought them together in the car at that time?”

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. E Williams

    February 3, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Why is it so important that Mr. Rivers be known as a “gay” man? Everyone knows someone whose gay and it’s not a big deal. My issue is that he had a right to privacy in his personal preference and life. He was a man and a very good friend who is now deceased. If you’re gay, show some class and some respect!

  2. Frank S.

    February 6, 2010 at 12:01 am

    I have know Gordan for over 13 years, and I im sure he would turn over in him grave if he was aware that his name was spattered in the press as an Quote/Unquote openly gay male… Gordan was very much aware of who he was and the life style he lived… For pete sake, have some humility, if not for him, atleast for his family and friend!!! RIP my brother…

    • breanna wren

      April 16, 2010 at 1:51 pm

      im sorry that your brother is dead. im sorry that my fiance killed him. but ask yourself if someone pulled a gun out on you what would u have done to fight for your life. im writing to u because i dont want you to hate him. i dont want anyone to look bad on william he did not mean to and im saying this because i know

  3. Tanya Johnson

    February 15, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    I am sadden that some one that didn’t take the time to know “Gordon”, would consider any bodily harm to him. Gordon would have probably given him money if he really needed it, without any hesitation. Gordon was a very respected and private person. His career was rewarding and he had great respect among his co-workers. It’s really sad that now his name is being tarnished by some low life guy, who need a real job to committ to his obligation as a “so called daddy”. I hope and pray that justice is served in a court of law. My Gordon, you were like the son I never had. I never slept until a suspect was apprehended… May you Rest in Peace, my sweet angel…Pls. shoot me an email when any trial information becomes available, I do plan to attend (rain, snow, sleet or shine). Your cooperation in this matter is greatly appreciated.

    • Prima

      March 4, 2010 at 7:56 pm

      This story should be primarily based on the tragic death of Gordon Rivers, but instead you want to focus on his sexual orientation. Shame! How can you expect people to treat gay individuals with the same courtesies as heterosexuals when you blast the “gay” label often? Does it change the outcome for Gordon Rivers? Does his being gay change the fact that he was targeted to die by some individuals that obviously wanted a quick payout?! I pray that these individuals find solace in “God’s Love”.

  4. breanna wren

    April 16, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    I have been with william wren for four years we have two sons together. i know him and what kind of person he is. Im not the type of person who would just lie to protect anyone if someone is wrong i would be the first to point them out. as far as the witness, the witness did indeed lie. william testimony was completely true, im saying this becuase i know for a fact. he admits everything to me. he did not meant to kill mr rivers. the arguement they had in his car went for a wrong turn and he tried to end williams life. william did what he had to he fought for his life. should he be wrong for doing that? should he be the one dead? so everyone out there just ask yourself what would you have done…

    • MedullaOblungata

      May 6, 2010 at 12:04 pm

      @Breanna Wren:
      Mrs Wren, The fact still remains that your “MAN” plotted and premeditated a robbery that eventually ended in a death. Obviously he had U fooled into thinking he was nice guy just like he probably did to Gordon. Your common sense should ask you a few questions..>>
      #1. What is your MAN at a KNOWN gay pick up spot in the wee hours of the morning?
      #2. If he tells you everything, then he must have told you he was going to rob someone, How do you rob someone without a gun or weapon?
      #3 If someone else was supposed to enter the car with a gun, why was said accomplice not there when your “MAN” was fighting with Gordan?
      #4. If Gordan and your man fought for the gun, why was he shot multiple times?

      Personally I think your “MAN” should be given the death penalty and you should be charged as an accessory before and after the fact of murder for simply admitting “he tells me everything” so did he tell you before or after he committed robbery and murder?

      Please raise your kids better then you and your “MAN were. I have so much more I could say but I digress.

      GOD Bless!!
      GOD Bless!

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Comings & Goings

Umana named associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol

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Wolfgang Umana (Photo courtesy of Umana)

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected]

Congratulations to Wolfgang Umana on being named an associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN). He has been with them for more than five years and is currently its D.C. studio’s office manager. 

“I am honored to become GGN’s newest Associate,” Umana said.I have the glorious privilege of supporting GGN’s continuing dedication to progress, inclusion, social justice, sustainability, and beautification of the world we live in.”

Umana also works with NBR Computer Consulting as an LLC Computer Technician consultant. He has experience in social media, communications, outreach, and technical services, and provides a dynamic approach to the fast-changing world of technology. NBR Computer Consulting, LLC is a gay-owned business. 

Umana has also served as D.C. Army National Guard Director of Environmental Affairs and with EMS Consultation Services. 

He has his bachelor’s in Environmental Science & Public Policy, Human and Ecosystem Response to Climate Change, from George Mason University. 

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Capital Pride bids for D.C. to host World Pride 2025

International event draws thousands of visitors

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Confetti rained down in New York’s Times Square at Stonewall 50 WorldPride New York’s closing ceremony two years ago. D.C. organizers hope to host the event in 2025. (Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

The Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s annual LGBTQ Pride events, announced on Sept. 21 that it has submitted a bid to host 2025 World Pride, the international Pride event that draws thousands of participants from throughout the world to the host city.

The announcement by Capital Pride says its bid to host the event in D.C. notes that the event, among other things, would commemorate the 50th anniversary of D.C.’s first LGBTQ Pride event in 1975, which began as a block party near Dupont Circle.

World Pride is licensed and administered by the international LGBTQ organization InterPride. The World Pride events themselves, which usually take place every other year, are organized by InterPride’s member organizations such as Capital Pride Alliance.

The Capital Pride announcement notes that World Pride “promotes visibility and awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) issues on a global level.” The announcement adds, “World Pride events include parades, marches, festivals and other cultural activities often enjoyed at Pride celebrations, along with other components such as a human rights conference and large-scale opening and closing ceremonies.”

The InterPride website says the deadline for submitting a bid for the 2025 World Pride has passed. It says D.C.’s Capital Pride and Kaohsiung Pride, located in the large Taiwan port city of Kaohsiung, are the only two remaining cities in competition for hosting the 2025 World Pride.

Ryan Bos, Capital Pride’s executive director, said InterPride was expected to make its decision on which of the two cities to select sometime in November of this year.

“A recent study conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton revealed that the annual Capital Pride Celebrations, during normal years, result in approximately $371 million in positive economic impacts to the region, a number that may be doubled if the organization is awarded the prestigious event,” the Capital Pride statement says.

The 2021 World Pride took place earlier this year in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 2019 World Pride was held in New York City to commemorate the 50th anniversary of New York’s Stonewall riots, which many activists consider the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

InterPride says the 2023 World Pride will take place in Sydney, Australia.

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Va. county supervisors back resolution against ‘required’ pronoun questions

Unanimous vote in Stafford County allows school defunding

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What's Your Pronoun? review, gay news, Washington Blade
(Image courtesy of Liveright Publishing)

The Stafford County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution that gives it the authority to deny funds to schools that require students to give their pronouns and teach the 1619 Project and critical race theory.

The resolution denounces “the teaching of the 1619 Project and critical race theory (CRT) and related principles in Stafford County Public Schools,” and states the board does not support Stafford County Public School students “being required to identify their chosen pronouns.”

The approved document had been updated to change “requested” to give pronouns to “required.”

Republican Supervisor Gary Snellings told the board he brought the resolution forward, which passed by a 6-0 vote margin, in response to communication from parents. One supervisor was not present.

Snellings called critical race theory “racism.” He also called the New York Times’ 1619 Project published on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the Virginia colony a “theory.”

Critical race theory is not taught in Virginia public schools, but a state law passed in 2020 requires local school boards to adopt policies that are more inclusive for transgender and non-binary students that follow, or exceed, guidelines from the state’s Department of Education.

Snellings said the problem with preferred pronouns was in requiring students to give them. He said that was not in the governing Virginia law.

“This (resolution) does not eliminate anything. It just follows state law,” Snellings said.

A Virginia court in July dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the Department of Education’s guidelines for trans and non-binary students. Equality Virginia and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia were parties to the amicus brief in support of the protections.

“We are deeply disappointed that these adults made such a hateful decision for kids in the community,” tweeted the ACLU of Virginia in response to the board’s vote.

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