CRIME

Columbia Heights IHOP shooting suspects sought

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DC Police are seeking two 'persons of interest' in connection with a shooting at an unusual location: inside a Northwest Washington IHOP Restaurant, crowded with early morning customers.

(Photo: Samuel Corum)

"Ridiculous, it's really tragic", says Claire Wiener, who sometimes stops by the IHOP at 14th and Irving Streets, in the Columbia Heights neighborhood.

Police say the gunfire--- around 6:30 Sunday morning, was preceded by a fight involving a number of patrons.

Reportedly, the dispute was over a woman.

Witnesses say at some point, a man was shot and critically wounded in the chest.

"All I can hope, I don't be the victim", says Mark Johnson, who was just setting up his flower stand across the street as police investigated the scene.

"Had to be somebody that know each other", says Johnson. "They had to know each other to do something like that."

Authorities say the unidentified victim was conscious and breathing, as he was transported to a local hospital. He's now listed in critical condition. It's unclear if Detectives have been able to interview him.

"This is going to happen," says Roxanne Ahyim, who lives in the nearby Petworth neighborhood, but shops along 14th Street frequently.

"This is Columbia Heights, and although this is a gentrified area, we still have the same issues we had in 1988," she adds.

Police aren't saying if the shooter is a man or a woman, or if that person knew the victim.

"I think it's actually kind of scary to know at 6:30 in the morning, people are getting breakfast, awake at that time--- somebody's getting shot", Wiener says.

But the notion that someone would open fire, in a crowded restaurant, has customers like Terry Jones, perplexed and concerned.

"With the proliferation of guns and people who believe you should be able to carry them... who can tell", he says.

The area where the shooting occurred, is a neighborhood in transition. Bars and restaurants are cropping up along Irving street. New condos are going up. In the hours after the shooting, young parents with strollers shared the sidewalk with 20-something couples.

Sam Radwany is among those realizing that even amid all the changes; the new construction, this is still an urban area.

"I'm not going to not come to IHOP anymore," he says. "But it's definitely something to think about. Makes you step back and look at what precautions you are taking."

Still, the shooting and the notion that a gunman is on the loose, concerns IHOP customers like Bawi Kebede.

"You have to hope it was an isolated incident," he says. "I think it's horrible. Hopefully, they'll apprehend the suspects as soon as possible, and do what needs to be done to prevent future outbreaks like that."

Witnesses note the IHOP appears to have security cameras. Police have not yet commented on whether any images may be released.

Police say the man and woman who are 'persons of interest' were last seen walking eastbound on Irving Street. 

The suspects are descibed as a black male and black female. The man is described as standing 6-foot-1 wearing green pants, while the female is only described as having a light complexion with a heavy build.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at (202) 727-9099.

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