North Old Town rocked by another homicide

North Old Town rocked by another homicide

Editor’s note: this is an updated version of this article, and was published in the December 8 issue of the Times.

By Chris Teale (Photo/Chris Teale)

A 41-year-old former city resident is dead after a shooting that occurred late last Wednesday on Colonial Avenue.

At approximately 9:24 p.m. November 30, officers from the Alexandria Police Department responded to the 1200 block of Colonial Ave. after a report of shots being fired. The victim was located by police suffering from trauma to the upper body, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

He was later identified as Colby McClennon, 41, of San Diego, Calif. Property records indicate he used to live on Colonial Avenue, and that Pamela McClennon still lives in the same house. Attempts to reach the family for comment or more information were unsuccessful.

The slaying shook the area, which is primarily residential and bordered by U.S. Route 1’s northbound lanes, just south of Potomac Yard. Neighbors reported hearing multiple gunshots that night, and said such events are virtually unheard of.

“This is a very quiet neighborhood; you don’t hear of too much of anything around here,” said Jeff Brown, a D.C.
resident who has walked dogs for a friend in the area for several years. “The shooting, that was a surprise. It just shows it could happen anywhere.”

“It’s generally pretty quiet when I’m here,” said Rachel Schott. “For something like this to happen is definitely a shock.”

McClennon was raised by his mother and grandmother in Alexandria, and attended T.C. Williams High School before dropping out in the 10th grade. Since then, he had been convicted for dealing drugs in the city and for robbery in New Jersey.

Court records show McClennon served 12 years in prison for dealing crack cocaine in Alexandria and carrying a gun while doing so, and on November 17 escaped from a San Pedro, Calif. halfway house intended to help him rejoin society.

The area has been prone to slayings in recent years, and community leaders have wrestled with how to prevent homicides and other violent crime in the rapidly redeveloping neighborhood. At multiple community meetings, Alexandria police have said they are looking for ways to engage in more community policing, where officers get out of their squad cars and walk around neighborhoods to get to know residents.

Police also have convened working groups and task forces of city leaders, residents and other stakeholders to come up with long-term solutions to the problems of violence in the city. Last year, Shakkan Elliot-Tibbs and Leon Williams were shot dead in the vicinity of the Braddock Road Metro station, and this year, Pierre Clark and Saquan Hall both were killed nearby.

“I think most importantly, for people that have come up to me, I think everyone recognizes this isn’t just a police issue,” Acting Police Chief David Huchler said in an interview earlier this year. “It’s really a city issue, the community, the police department, city services. I think our next steps are going to put us in the right direction to come to long-term resolutions to the violence that’s been happening in the community.”

Judy Noritake, president of the nearby Braddock Metro Citizens’ Coalition, said there appeared to be progress in the area and a decline in violent crime overall. After the slayings of Clark and Hall, the BMCC was one of several groups to join together to make suggestions on how to help ease the tensions in the community.

Noritake said the re-introduction of nighttime basketball earlier this year, at which there have been dozens of attendees, has been a positive step. But, she said, addressing the deeper issues behind violent crime will
take more work and time.

“Anything you can do, they’ve been trying to do it,” Noritake said. “It’s not like they’re sticking their heads in the sand. But some of the issues, I think, go much deeper, and we’re trying to address those too. But that’s something that takes a lot of time.”

The investigation is ongoing. This is the seventh homicide in the city this year.

The first took place in April, when Melaku Abraha was assaulted and robbed on the 200 block of S. Alfred St. and later died of his injuries. In May, Shakeel Baldon, 43, was stabbed on Lincolnia Road and died from his injuries in a local hospital.

In June, Clark was shot on the 1000 block of Montgomery St., then in July, Hall was shot on the 1000 block of First St. On October 5, Rolf Marshall was shot inside his Duke Street residence, then on October 26, Hunter Alexander died of injuries sustained in an assault at the Sunrise of Alexandria senior living facility on Duke Street.

The only other unsolved murder from this year is that of Clark, with police having made arrests in all other cases.

Anyone with information about this investigation is asked to contact Detective Loren King with the Alexandria Police Department at 703-746-6689.