WASHINGTON -- District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier announced Monday afternoon that an arrest has been made in the shooting incident that happened at the Columbia Heights IHOP on March 11 that had been determined to be an anti-gay hate crime.
According to a media advisory, LaShawn Carson, 27, has been charged with aggravated assault while armed.
"I am pleased and relieved to announce that a suspect in this dastardly crime has been arrested," the mayor said in a statement. "As I said at the time of the shooting, while all crime is horrific and destructive to the fabric of our community, hate crimes are particularly insidious, because they instill fear in an entire group. All of our residents should have the right to walk the streets of our neighborhoods free of fear that they will be targeted because of their identities, beliefs or characteristics."
According to the Washington Blade:
Police have said the shooting incident, involving a 31-year-old gay male victim, began after the victim and at least three suspects in the case got into an argument that escalated into a physical altercation.
A witness who identified himself as the victim’s cousin said he, the victim and another cousin were sitting at a table at the International House of Pancakes restaurant on 14th Street, N.W. in Columbia Heights when he overheard the suspect and two people seated with him refer to the people sitting at the victim’s table as “faggies.”
The man who was shot was hospitalized and was expected to be released after being treated for a gunshot wound to his liver.
Following the IHOP incident, MPD officials were confident that an arrest would be made. But it also came at a time when members of the LGBT community have been victims of violence in the nation's capital.
More than 600 people gathered at the IHOP last week for a silent march to raise awareness about violence affecting the LGBT community.
"We are here to express our anger and concern about these senseless hate crimes," D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) said at the time, according to WTOP.
Police determined that a March 12 robbery and beating of a gay man at Georgia Avenue and Irving Street NW was a hate crime. But there was no evidence to declare an unrelated incident that happened the same day involving a transgender woman at West Virginia Avenue and Mount Olivet Road NE a hate crime, according to the Blade.