Jamal Coates

Jamal Coates once existed. That’s something that everyone can agree on.

Everyone can also agree that due to tragic events that unfolded Tuesday afternoon, he no longer exists. Coates died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to cops. Family and friends will want to know why they lost their loved one. But the response authorities provide to that question may land somewhere between murky and obtuse. Because the thing is, one of the gangs rumored to be involved in the violence that, after a funeral, threw U Street into chaos and left Coates dead isn’t supposed to exist.

The gang has been largely dispersed. At least, that’s according to a campaign season boast by Councilmember Jim Graham. The Ward 1 politician contended that with the help of a police camera at 17th and Euclid streets Northewest, the Metropolitan Police Department had “scattered” what’s known as the 1-7 crew. Graham was trying to put constituents at ease about a longstanding, bloody rivalry between the 1-7 Crew  and the G-Rod Crew (14th and Girard streets NW).

It’s an aggravating assertion—seeing that the 17th and Euclid area has seen several shootings of late.

One of the shootings happened on June 27. Victor Chigoziri Mba-Jonas was shot on the 2500 block of 17th Street NW. A witness who was with Mba-Jonas when it happened told police the two were walking along 17th when two men hanging out there asked “What’s up with ya’ll?”

The men followed them and eventually started shooting. The gunfire occurred far enough away from 17th and Euclid not to be captured by the crime camera there. The device did get footage of the alleged shooters before and after the murder. Though the suspects had hung out at 17th and Euclid that night, arrest warrants said nothing about them being gang affiliated.

But court documents attached to a more recent killing definitely mention the supposedly hobbled 1-7. Sean Robinson was torn apart by gunfire on the night of Aug. 11 in the 1600 block of Euclid Street NW.

In  court papers related to the murder investigation, MPD Investigator Thomas Ellingsworth doesn’t refer to the 1-7 as a bygone difficulty, but as a current problem. “Investigator Ellingsworth has knowledge that the ‘1-7 crew’ and ‘G-Rod Crew’ have been and are currently ‘beefing’ with one another. Additionally, Investigator Ellingsworth was aware that the decedent was affiliated with the ‘1-7’ Crew.”

A former 1-7 member, though he was a good distance from Euclid, Coates may have fallen victim to the beef. Brandon Miller has been arrested in connection to his murder. Miller is of the 1200 block of Girard NW. That’s not exactly 14th and Girard, but it’s close enough to stir suspicions.

Contacted, Graham sticks by the notion that the 1-7 Crew has been pushed out of the area: “I mean, they have been largely dispersed.”

“Not every last one of them,” he says. “I mean, they could drive back.” He says what’s left of the crew has been pushed into Northeast. That’s achievable, adds Graham, because African American crews like 1-7 aren’t as large as Latino gangs like MS-13. “They vary in size but some are about a dozen,” he says.

Adams Morgan has an artsy swagger, and gang violence would seem to derail its rep as a good place to indulge in the D.C. version of hipster culture. Maybe that’s why Graham has been in denial. One police source tells City Desk that though gentrification and a heavy MPD presence have taken a toll on the 1-7 (there is less blight for them to hide behind), they’re still going strong.

Photo courtesy of Bryan Weaver