Police: Shooting at senior facility leaves 2 staff members dead
One man claimed the shooter was a fellow resident who was "standing up" for the seniors
By Sarah Brumfield
CAPITOL HEIGHTS, Md. — Two staff members were fatally shot Friday at a Maryland senior living facility just outside of Washington, D.C., and a suspect was taken into custody, police said.
The shooting happened around shortly after 9 a.m. at the National Church Residences Gateway Village in Capitol Heights, Prince George’s County and Capitol Heights police said. Both victims were women — one found in a hallway and another in an office, they said.
A resident who identified himself only as Donald said the shooter is his friend and lived in the complex. He said the man was fed up with how residents have been treated.
“He told me, ‘Don, nobody is standing up for these seniors. I can’t take it no more. I’ve got to do something.’ And obviously what he chose to do is wrong, but he did something,” the resident told reporters.
“I know what set him off -- the way they treat the seniors in Gateway Village!” Donald added.
The Gateway Village website describes the apartment complex about a half-mile (.8 km) east of the District of Columbia as an “affordable rental community for seniors age 62+” with studio and one-bedroom units.
National Church Residences spokeswoman Cindy Young said they “are extremely heartbroken” that two staff members were killed.
"We are proud of the heroic and swift actions of our staff to ensure that our residents were protected and kept safe. Our hearts go out to the families of our two team members who lost their lives in this tragic and unfortunate incident,” her statement said.
Capitol Heights Police Chief Mark Cummings described it as an open facility where residents can come and go without staff controlling whether they carry a gun.
“It’s an open facility. It’s a residence. So they don’t manage what weapons or things are brought in,” Cummings said.
Police said the homicide investigation would include any questions about the management of the facility.
Cummings said he wasn't aware of any significant problems at the complex leading up to the shooting.
“We don’t get a lot of calls to this facility. My officers actually patrol that area very much. We go in and talk to the residents. So we’re not aware of any ongoing situations,” Cummings said.
The shooter prepared to surrender even before police arrived, Donald said.
“I saw him after the shooting. He had come up to his place. When I stuck my head out after the fire alarm, he was laying prostrate on the floor, arms spread out and the weapon pushed six feet (two meters) in front of him,” Donald said.
“He told me to tell the police that he was no threat, that he was ready and waiting for them. He knew he was going away. He told me that. I called the police to get them on the phone, to tell them what was going on," added Donald.
Deputy Prince Georges County Chief Lakina S. Webster said the suspect was taken into custody without incident.
County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks said the priority now is caring for the approximately 89 residents of the facility, making sure they have medicine and food after many were evacuated.
“We are absolutely devastated about the loss of life today and if you think about it, the depravity. There is no good explanation for why this kind of occurrence happens again and again,” Alsobrooks said.