On Saturday, authorities continued to explore the mysterious past and motivations of a gunman they said randomly shot people, hitting four, in Northwest Washington, as frightening new details began to emerge about the possible lethality. of the attack.
Police on Saturday officially identified Spencer as the man they believe carried out the attack, having previously said authorities were looking for him as a person of interest before stating a suspect was found dead. Authorities said he killed himself inside the fifth-floor apartment where he fired more than 100 rounds near Van Ness Street and Connecticut Avenue.
Several law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive investigation, said Spencer’s only known link to the District appears to be that sparsely furnished apartment at AVA Van Ness, in which assault rifles were found. at least one gun. , a tripod for a firearm and a mattress on the floor.
The apartment that police describe as a ‘sniper’s nest’ It overlooks the Edmund Burke School in the 2900 block of Van Ness Street, which appears to have drawn the shooter’s attention at afternoon dismissal time.
DC Police Chief Robert J. Contee III said numerous buildings and vehicles may have been hit by gunfire, and police officials said they believe two stores and one vehicle in Cleveland Park, nearly a mile from the building. of apartments, were attacked.
“We’re probably going to find a lot of bullet holes,” Contee said as the search for evidence expanded north on Connecticut Avenue, one of the District’s busiest corridors lined with restaurants, shops, apartments and foreigners. embassies
The bullets fired from the weapons used in the shooting, the chief said, have “the ability to travel an extensive distance.”
Police said four people were injured in the shooting, including a man in his 50s who is a part-time security guard at Edmund Burke, a woman in her 30s and another woman in her 60s who was grazed by a bullet. while waiting in his vehicle to pick up a child. A 12-year-old girl was also shot.
Authorities expressed astonishment that more people were not beaten or even killed, saying it will take many days for police to collect evidence and fully document the damage across a large number of city blocks.
The hours of a fearsome confinement at Edmund Burke School
On Friday night, the Fairfax County Police SWAT team and DC police searched Spencer’s apartment in Julian at Fair Lakes and said they had only had one prior contact with the man. A county police spokesman described the call as a noise complaint and said Spencer had complied with officers.
Efforts to contact Spencer’s relatives over the past two days have been unsuccessful, with residents of the AVA Van Ness complex describing only fleeting encounters with him.
Shelby Magid, who lives on the fifth floor, said Spencer would have blended into the building that houses many young people. Magid, 28, recalled seeing him once or twice on the way to the elevator, but she said she had never interacted with him.
“It’s a quiet room,” said Magid, who was not home when the shooting occurred.
Another fifth-floor resident, Diana Camosy, 34, holed up on the bedroom floor with her husband for most of Friday afternoon, tapping Twitter for updates. Camosy, who was wearing headphones, and her husband, who had been on a work Zoom call, heard the shots but dismissed them as construction noise.
In a text message, Camosy said he looked out his window and saw students with backpacks running down an alley.
“Once we heard the sirens, we knew something was terribly wrong,” he said. As the afternoon progressed, she heard police in her hallway and checked the peephole on her front door and saw “cops with rifles.” Camosy said he overheard them talking about getting to certain units on the floor.
“We were shocked when we learned that Spencer was living, shooting and dying on the same floor as us and our friends,” Camosy said.
Suspect in shooting that injured 4 found dead, officials say
Representatives for the apartment complex and the developer, Avalon Communities, did not respond to interview requests. A message sent to residents said the company understood “how upsetting this has been for all of us and we are so appreciative of everything law enforcement has done to resolve this unfortunate situation.”
Spencer’s biographical history remained murky, but public records indicate that he spent some time in Montgomery County. In 2016, the Montgomery County Recreation Department released a photo detailing a lifeguard rescuing her from the Wheaton-Glenmont pool.
“In a dramatic scene, lifeguard Raymond Spencer had finished his shift, decided to swim a few lengths, and became disoriented after getting out of the water,” a Facebook post said. “He fell back into the pool.”
The post said he was rescued by other first responders and a firefighter who performed CPR to help him regain consciousness. After being asked about the Facebook post and whether Spencer worked with the Montgomery recreation department, a county spokesperson confirmed that Spencer had worked with the agency.
Spencer’s last years have also not come to light. Police said they are compiling her internet posts and interactions on various social media platforms, including 4chan and Wikipedia, on which authorities believe she made edits to various pages in the days leading up to the shooting.
Those edits were made on pages including David Hogg, who survived a deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida, and has become an outspoken advocate for gun control.
There are also searches of the Wikipedia pages for Wheaton High School, in Montgomery County; Md., the recent attack on the New York subway; Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia; and the “Glenmont station”. The meaning of those issues could not be determined Saturday.
A Wikipedia page for the Edmund Burke School was searched and edited multiple times, including a line added about an hour after police said the shooting began when Spencer wrote: “A gunman shot up the school on April 22, 2022. Suspect is still at length.”
On a separate online forum called 4chan, a user who identified himself as Raymond Spencer posted four minutes after the reported shooting began: “Dear God please forgive me.”
The following post seemed to mock the police: “They are in the wrong part of the building right now looking XD.” The user later wrote: “Waiting for the police to catch up with me.”
Photos: The scene after the Connecticut Avenue shooting
Police also said a graphic video posted online Friday showing what appears to be the shooting is authentic, though it’s unclear when it was posted. The video shows Burke School’s glass walkway covered with signs from its recent financial aid auction. themed after the Clue game. The sound of gunshots erupts and one of the glass panes shatters.
On Wikipedia, Spencer last updated her user page at 3:58 p.m. on Friday, shortly after the shooting. The page said that he was an “AR-15 aficionado” in his biography. The page has since been removed from the platform.
In a letter to the city, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) called the shooting a “heartbreaking day for our community” and denounced the continuing gun violence in the District.
“Unfortunately, tonight, I looked into the eyes of parents who were terrified and were terrified of what could happen to their children,” the mayor said in her letter. “This epidemic of gun violence in our country, the easy access to firearms, has to stop.”
Jackie Rollins, who lives in the AVA apartment building on the floor below the shooter, said she was watching a show on Netflix when she heard the shots but wasn’t sure what it was.
“I heard the gunshots, but I didn’t realize it was gunshots, because I’ve never heard a gun other than on TV or in a movie,” Rollins, 57, said. “And it wasn’t until my grandson, I guess he saw something on the news, and that’s how I found out.”
He turned on the local news, whose cameras were still showing his building, and then he saw heavily armed police on the nearby street. A little later, the police told her that she would have to evacuate soon. She said that she has lived in the building for about 18 months and that she had seen the suspected shooter several times, but that she didn’t know much about him.
“I just can’t understand how you have such little respect for human life,” he said.
Around 10 p.m., Rollins was still waiting for police to allow her and several other residents to return inside the building.
“It’s a great place,” he said. “This is the first of something like this and hopefully the last.”
Jennifer Jenkins, Razzan Nakhlawi, Alice Crites, Justin Jouvenal, Emily Davies, and Tom Jackman contributed to this report.
The Canadian News
Canada’s largets news curation site with over 20+ agency partners