Woman arrested in Columbia Heights IHOP shooting

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Local,DC,Crime,Alan Blinder

D.C. police arrested a 27-year-old woman on Monday in connection with the March 11 shooting of a man in Columbia Heights who authorities say was the target of anti-gay rhetoric, an episode that was part of a wave of attacks against members of the city's homosexual community.

Police charged LaShawn Carson with aggravated assault while armed, and she was being held without bond ahead of a preliminary hearing on Thursday.

Mayor Vincent Gray and police Chief Cathy Lanier declined to say whether they believe the shooting at the International House of Pancakes at 3100 14th St. NW should be legally classified as a hate crime, which would carry a greater penalty. But Gray said the episode appeared to be linked to the victim's sexual orientation.

"It was one of a string of violent crimes that appear to have targeted -- and I underscore appear -- the District's LGBT community," Gray said, using an acronym to refer to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered residents. "Crimes of this nature cannot and will not be tolerated in the District of Columbia."

Ward 1 Councilman Jim Graham, who is openly gay and represents Columbia Heights, was more blunt at an afternoon news conference.

"What a relief this is," Graham said. "It's a relief because this was a horrendous hate crime that singled out somebody on the basis of a perception."

The IHOP attack was one of two against LGBT residents that prompted a march through Columbia Heights last week to protest hate crimes, but authorities said the episode at the restaurant appeared to be unrelated to the March 19 beating and robbery of a gay man on Georgia Avenue.SClBThose attacks followed a series of violent incidents last summer that targeted transgendered people and left one woman dead.

Lanier said Tuesday that authorities were diligent building their case in the March 11 shooting to try to ensure it would hold up in court.

"If we're going to bring charges that are appropriate and that will carry us through court, we have to do some work upfront," Lanier said. "Taking a few days to make sure that work is done and done well -- so that when the charges are brought, they stand -- takes us a little time."

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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Alan Blinder

Staff Reporter, D.C. City Hall
The Washington Examiner