December 7, 2018 at 9:37 am EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
LGBT youth hear gunshots outside SMYAL house
SMYAL Fall Brunch, gay news, Washington Blade, gunshots

SMYAL Executive Director Sultan Shakir said staff have remained safe and have not been directly impacted by the shootings.(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Residents and staff members at the LGBT youth advocacy group SMYAL’s eight-bedroom transitional house for homeless LGBT youth were among many residents living near a section of Benning Road, N.E. that heard the sounds of gunshots last month during the latest of several shooting incidents in the area.

According to D.C. police, a man was shot and killed on the 1800 block of Benning Road., N.E., around the corner from the SMYAL house, in a hail of gunfire about 1:50 p.m. on Nov. 26. Police said a second person received a non-life threatening gunshot wound in the same incident.

The shooting marked another in a series of shootings along or near a section of Benning Rd., N.E. in the last several months, police and residents in the area have said. Police said four people were shot and wounded along the 1800 block of Benning Road, N.E. on Sept. 21 and a man was shot to death there on Sept. 24.

SMYAL Executive Director Sultan Shakir told the Washington Blade that residents and staff at the SMYAL house at 746 19th St., N.E., which is less than one block off of Benning Rd., have remained safe and have not been directly impacted by the nearby shootings. But he said the youth residents and staff were aware of the incidents.

“They heard the shots,” he said in referring to the Nov. 26 incident that took the life of one of two people struck by gunfire.

The SMYAL house opened in January 2017 following a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said the shootings did not appear to be random and that the persons shot may have been targets related to disputes. Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Kathy Henderson told NBC 4 News she believes the shootings were linked to possible disputes among drug dealers coming into the neighborhood from other parts of the city.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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