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Gunshots interrupt child’s birthday party at DC playground

WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. logo WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. 12/11/2018 Liz Palka

WASHINGTON -- Residents of several Northwest D.C. neighborhoods are worried and demanding answers after two recent shootings in LeDroit Park that happened right next to a popular playground and park. Both shootings happened just before noon in broad daylight. During one of the shootings, a family was hosting their son’s 4th birthday party at the playground.

John Sorrenti and his wife never expected to hear gunshots at their son’s birthday party at the Park at LeDroit. They also never imagined parents would hit the ground to shield their kids from potential stray bullets.

“It’s just terrifying because you had no idea where they were coming from, whether there were going to be more,” said John Sorrenti.

Sorrenti said a few people at the party dialed 911. D.C. police confirm they responded to a shots fired call around 11:45 a.m. on December 2nd, when the Sorrentis were hosting their son’s party. No one was injured and no property was damaged.

A few days later was a different story. Police responded to a double shooting at 11:30 a.m. in the 200 block of V Street Northwest. This shooting ended up with a man and a woman injured and in the hospital. Once again, the shooting was right next to the Park at LeDroit. Police said a police officer even witnessed the shooting as they were walking through the park on patrol.

D.C. police have also released video of a car they believe was involved in the shooting. You can view that video here.

After two shootings during the day in one week, residents are looking for answers from city leaders. Not only does the Park at LeDroit have a playground, it also has a dog park and community garden. Some tell WUSA9 they don’t want to return until they know it’s safe.

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The LeDroit Park Civic Association is considering a number of options in light of the shootings. President Ethan Arnheim says the association might request a stronger police presence and surveillance of the park, as well as better communication from D.C. police. The civic association also will hold a community discussion or poll about which approach works best for the community.

The Bloomingdale Civic Association President, Teri Janine Quinn, says they will host Third District Commander Stuart Emerman at the next association meeting on Monday, December 17 at 7 p.m. The meeting is held at St. George’s Episcopal Church. Quinn says the civic association was previously scheduled to host Emerman before the shootings, but now he will address both topics.

D.C. police says officers in the 3rd District have taken a number of actions in recent weeks to address gun violence in the area. According to Emerman, police have increased patrols and deployed a light tower to the area. They have also executed search warrants and worked with various city departments to make arrests. Emerman says two guns were recovered from the area before Thanksgiving.

“Whatever it takes, we’d like to try to help and figure out some solution,” said Sorrenti.

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