One of the men accused in one of the District's deadliest shootings in decades has pleaded guilty to five counts of second-degree murder and two counts of conspiracy and is cooperating with police.
Nathaniel Simms, 26, admitted that he was one of four men who piled into a rented minivan on March 30 and went on a shooting rampage in Southeast Washington that left four young people dead and five wounded. Simms said he leaned the barrel of an AK-47 out the window of the Chrysler Town and Country van and fired into a crowd of mourners coming from a funeral.
Throughout most of the hearing, Simms stood stone-faced and motionless in an orange jumpsuit, shackled at the hands and waist. He was silent as the prosecutor recounted the details of the shooting, offering a quiet "yes, your honor" or "no sir" when questioned by the judge.
"You held [an AK-47] out the window and just shot indiscriminately?" D.C. Superior Court Judge Michael Rankin asked at one point.
"Yes, your honor," Simms replied, as family members of the victims looked on.
Simms' guilty plea closes one chapter in the complicated saga of murder and retribution that unfolded late last month.
Authorities believe the killings stemmed from an earlier slaying over costume jewelry. Sanquan Carter, 19, noticed his gold-colored bracelet was missing while attending a party on South Alabama Street on March 22. Believing the bracelet was stolen by other party-goers, Carter, his brother Orlando, 20, and two associates murdered a man named Jordan Howe, according to the charges.
Sanquan Carter was arrested the next day, but Orlando was shot in the face, sustaining minor injuries.
On March 30, Orlando, Simms and two friends, Jeffrey Best, 21 and Robert Bost, 22, attacked the mourners leaving Howe's funeral.
Authorities say Simms and his friends were wearing ski masks at the time of the attack, which they tossed out the window during an ensuing police chase. The chase ended when Orlando crashed the minivan into a police car.
The sentencing for Simms is expected to take place the third week of August. He faces life in prison for the murder charges, and up to 30 years for conspiracy to commit murder.