CRIME

National Zoo stabbing victim recovering as investigation continues

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Authorities continued Tuesday to sort out a stabbing at the National Zoo that left one teen hospitalized and another facing charges of assault with intent to kill.

(Photo: TBD Staff)

The stabbing was just one of several incidents at the zoo on Monday. Several fights broke out at the zoo during Monday’s annual Easter celebration for black families, African American Family Day. Zoo officials have confirmed that several people were restrained at the park Monday, but not necessarily because of the stabbing.Others were reportedly escorted of the property.

Roughly 28,000 people visited the zoo Monday, and there was an increased police presence at the event. Zoo director Dennis Kelly said he closed the entrance to the zoo just before the stabbing because the crowd was too large.

Kelly said they are reviewing security plan with police and will restrict crowds in the future if they get too large.

The teen who was stabbed is currently in stable condition at a local hospital. After he was wounded on zoo property, he fled to the 2900 block of Connecticut Avenue NW, where he was discovered.

The 16-year-old who is suspected of stabbing him, Mshairi Alkebular, was taken into custody and is facing charges. He is being charged as an adult. Police are investigating the motive behind the stabbing.

In a statement on Wednesday, D.C. Mayor Vince Gray said that the incident highlights the need for increased coordination between security agencies and the police.

"Chief [Cathy] Lanier is meeting with her counterpart in the National Zoo Police to discuss this incident and work toward better coordination to prevent such events in the future," Gray said.

At the same event 11 years ago, several people were shot in another violent incident.

But zoo officials say African American Family Day is a great day for the community and has been a long-time tradition, and they don't want it overshadowed by the unfortunate string of events.

Authorities are working to gather more information about the stabbing. There will be a formal review and report on the incident.

Here is a statement from Dennis Kelly, Director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo:

First, let me say that we’re concerned for the young man that was injured here. We hope that he will have a complete recovery.

An altercation broke out at approximately 3:30 and a juvenile was stabbed. He fled our property and was later found on Connecticut Avenue where he was transferred to a hospital. All details of the injured boy and those arrested in conjunction with the altercation should be addressed to MPD. Our Zoo Police in collaboration with Metropolitan Police are still investigating the incident.

We will conduct a thorough review of the day. For the past ten years, we’ve had sufficient security resources and now we need to reevaluate for the future. We have a good security situation and will improve it for the Zoo, which is increasingly attracting more visitors. We will examine our capacity. We know that we have several extremely popular events and seasons. We’re now in a position where we will restrict the rate of flow of visitors into the Zoo in order to maintain the highest level of safety. That is what we did yesterday. By late afternoon, we reached what we felt was our capacity and closed the Zoo to more visitors.

Today, we are at normal staffing level and remain extra vigilant due to the events of yesterday and in close communication with MPD. I’m thankful for their support and excellent response yesterday

My goal is to continue the National Zoo Easter Monday tradition in a way that we can ensure not just a quality experience but to maintain the safety for all visitors that come here. The incident yesterday was extremely unfortunate. Easter Monday grew out of a grassroots community tradition among Washingtonians that has lasted more than 100 years. In the early 1990s, the Zoo and Friends of the National Zoo, decided that instead of simply being a venue for this community tradition, the Zoo should offer fun and educational activities to welcome area families and enrich their experience at the Zoo. I will also be working with my Smithsonian colleagues to upgrade our security services for the rest of the busy spring season before summer arrives.

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