Reports of a 13-year-old boy killed after being suspected of breaking into cars have spurred outrage in Washington D.C. neighborhood and among leaders, including the daughter of a civil rights icon.
Authorities say Karon Blake died around 4 a.m. on Jan. 7 after being shot by an adult resident near Quincy Street in D.C.
The Metropolitan Police Department said the shooter claimed to have seen Karon breaking into cars on the street early Saturday morning before confronting him and shooting him multiple times. Karon, who was unarmed, was taken to a local hospital, where he died from his injuries. The adult who shot Karon has not been identified.
Chia Ukeekwe, a parent of a student at Karon’s school, told News4 that it was unacceptable to shoot someone over property.
“I understand that people have a right to protect their property, but to go out and shoot somebody who’s not doing anything to you, is, I don’t think that’s acceptable,” said Ukeekwe.
A neighbor of the shooter also said that he was saddened to learn that a young boy lost his life because of a car.
“Life is very short, and when you hear of a child who is 13 years old dying over trying to take somebody’s car or trying to break into somebody’s car, it’s very, very sad. He didn’t even have a chance to finish school,” he said. “It’s very, very sad that we live in a world that’s just been taken over by people that have guns, and young people are just breaking into cars.”
It is unclear if the shooter owned any of the vehicles that Karon allegedly tampered with. According to the MPD, the shooter was performing CPR on Karon when they arrived on the scene. The man reportedly used a legally registered firearm to shoot the teenager.
Ward 5 Councilmember Zachary Parker told FOX5 that he was at a loss for words about how a resident could take Karon’s life over a vehicle.
“I’m at a loss for words as to what would possess a resident to take matters into their own hands and take the life of a young person.”
D.C. Councilmember Christina Henderson posted a message on social media and said Karon should still be alive.
“Property is not greater than life. Karon should be alive today. I’m checking in with DCPS and the Dept of Behavioral Health to make sure the Brookland MS community has the appropriate support in the days and months ahead,” she wrote.
Others wondered why Karon’s name was released, but the shooter’s name was not.
“Black 13-year-old Karon Blake shot and killed in D.C. by a homeowner who claims he thought the boy was breaking into cars. Police say there is no indication Blake was armed. The killed 13-year old’s name’s been released, the identity of the shooter has not been. Why not?”
Reactions to the boy’s death extended beyond the D.C. area.
“This hurts. I am praying for the family of #KaronBlake. His life is so devalued that some will consider an allegation of ‘breaking into cars’ cause to snuff out his 13-year-old life. But his life matters far more than things,” wrote Bernice King, daughter of late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
However, others argue that if Karon was indeed breaking into cars, he ordered his own fate.
“If he wasn’t really breaking into a car, then it was wrong to kill him,” Twitter user David Sims wrote in response to King. “But, whether you like it or not, that’s the way it has got to be. Thieves MUST be stopped, and if that means killing them, then so be it. Notice that I’m not judging whether or not this person is guilty.”
Some also questioned what the 13-year-old was doing out of his home during early morning hours.
“Truly a tragedy in many aspects. While there seems more to this story yet to come, loss of the young always stirs emotion,” wrote Twitter user Elsyabeth Britt in response to King. “Nothing good comes from children out in the middle of the night. Parents, stay vigilant.”
MPD detectives are currently working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to determine if any charges will be brought against the shooter.