Yesterday evening (June 19), as the Washington, D.C. community gathered to celebrate the Moechella Festival, the event was interrupted by gunfire. In the chaos, a 15-year-old boy was killed. Three adults, including a police officer, were also shot.
According to the event’s Instagram page, Moechella is an advocacy festival that amplifies the culture of Washington D.C. However, sources say there were no permits secured for the unauthorized street festival at the corner of 14th and U Streets Northwest that drew in hundreds. Last night, Chief Robert J. Contee III of the Metropolitan Police Department spoke at a news conference saying “several individuals were shot.”
During the conference, the chief shared that the officer injured in the shooting is expected to make a full recovery and the other two adults are in stable condition. No information on a suspect or motive was provided. In addition to the shooting, multiple attendees suffered injuries from being trampled as they tried to escape the danger.
“This is one of the reasons we don’t want unpermitted events taking place in our city. Unfortunately, things like this can happen when you have the wrong mix of people or people who introduce firearms into a situation,” Chief Contee said of the unauthorized celebration.
“Illegal firearms in the hands of people who should not have them make events like this unsafe for people who just want to enjoy the beautiful weather, who want to enjoy Father’s Day, who want to enjoy our city,” he added after noting that officers seized several unregistered guns earlier in the day.
Before the tragic events, a local newspaper described the festival as “a free, go-go band-led event full of Black cultural spirit and anti-gentrification passion.” NBC Washington spoke with festival organizers who gave a statement following the incident. “We don’t condone violence of any sort. Moechella is a symbol of Black culture in D.C. and is built on the foundation of peace,” it read. Because the festival was unpermitted, organizers could face charges.