Washington DC official charged with shooting dead 13-year-old he claimed was breaking into cars

Washington DC Metropolitan Police withheld the name of the suspect for three weeks before filing charges on Tuesday

Andrea Blanco
Tuesday 31 January 2023 19:38 GMT
Karon Blake Shooting: DC gov employee turns himself in to police related to charges in killing

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Louise Thomas

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A man accused of fatally shooting a 13-year-old boy who was allegedly breaking into cars in a DC neighbourhood has been charged with murder.

Forty-one-year-old Jason Lewis, an employee at the Washington DC Department of Parks and Recreation, turned himself in on Tuesday after he was charged with second-degree murder, DC police chief Robert Contee said during a press conference, per FOX 5.

Mr Lewis fired several shots at Karon Blake on 7 January after he “heard noises and observed someone that appeared to be tampering with vehicles,” according to a police report. Mr Lewis reportedly gave CPR to the minor before he was taken to a hospital where he died from his injuries.

Mr Contee said his department, in consultation with the US Attorney’s Office, had gathered enough information to apply for an arrest warrant that was ultimately signed. As part of the investigation, police collected video evidence from the scene and interviewed witnesses.

He said that there was no altercation between Mr Lewis and Karon before the shooting unfolded. According to court documents, the minor reportedly yelled “I’m sorry,” “I’m a kid” and “I’m only 12” before he was fatally shot.

“I think the biggest grievance is that the first shot that was fired was actually fired at someone who was sitting in a vehicle who was not an immediate threat to the person who fired the shot,” Mr Contee said on Tuesday.

Mr Contee also challenged claims that authorities had taken “too long” to charge Mr Lewis, saying officials were comfortable with the timeline of the criminal probe and wanted to examine the evidence thoroughly before moving the case through the court system.

Karon Blake was killed on 7 January. Three weeks after his death, DC police have charged a city employee with second-degree murder
Karon Blake was killed on 7 January. Three weeks after his death, DC police have charged a city employee with second-degree murder (Londen Blake/GoFundMe )

DC police had previously refused to release the name of the shooter, simply saying he was a city employee and had been placed on leave from his $75,000-a-year-job following the shooting. The measure prompted outrage and calls by the community to hold Karon’s killer accountable.

Some had taken it upon themselves to track down the identity of the man behind his death, with online sleuths mistakenly doxxing neighbours of the man, police had previously said.

“We wanted to be methodical, we wanted to be correct and not make any assumptions,” Mr Contee said. “We wanted to follow the evidence. There was somewhat of a self-defence claim that could have been made, Mr Lewis in this case is a licensed concealed carrier and was on his property when the shooting happened.”

Mr Lewis’s firearms were seized after the arrest, Mr Contee said. Meanwhile, his attorney Lee Smith told TheWashington Post that his client “had dedicated his career to mentoring and supporting youth in the District of Columbia, which only adds to how distraught he is over the death of Karon Blake.”

Mr Lee said his client maintained his innocence and “no crime was committed.”

The police chief said that surveillance video was crucial in obtaining the arrest warrant. The US Attorney’s Office will decide whether the video, which reportedly also confirms Mr Lewis’ claims that the teen was breaking into cars, will be released.

“It appears that the young men were peering into cars that were on the driveway and they were going into the cars,” Mr Contee said, adding that other “young men” present that night are encouraged to come forward with information.

Mr Contee did not confirm whether charges will be filed against them or not but said the primary focus of the investigation is to determine whether Mr Lewis committed a crime.

A stolen car, believed to have been used by Karon, was found near the scene, according to police.

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