Community members hold protest signs at the Cedar Gardens event after 11-year-old Davon McNeal was shot and killed on July 4, 2020.
An 18-year-old man was arrested Thursday in the fatal shooting of Davon McNeal, the 11-year-old boy who was struck by a bullet in the head during a community cookout on the Fourth of July, D.C. police said.
Daryle Bond of Southeast, D.C., was arrested and charged with first degree murder, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said at a news conference. Police are searching for three more suspects and are in the process of securing an arrest warrant for a fifth person, Newsham said.
"They had a history of picking up firearms and using them in our community," Newsham said of the men allegedly involved in the shooting. "Now, these guys have taken the life of an 11-year-old boy and that is tragic."
Police are still looking for Carlo General, 19, of Southeast; Marcel Gordon, 25, of Southeast and Christian Wingfield, 22, of Hillcrest Heights, Md. All three are wanted on a charge of first-degree murder, authorities said.
Newsham said Davon was not the target of the shooting, which happened on the 1400 block of Cedar Street in Southeast. The police chief said the men were "shooting at something else."
Authorities said Davon had just left a "Stop the Violence" cookout in Anacostia that was organized by his mother Crystal McNeal, who mediates conflict between gangs as a "violence interrupter" for the city, when he was shot.
The boy left shortly after 9 p.m. to retrieve a phone charger at a family member's house nearby, according to Davon's grandparents, Wanda and John Ayala. Gunfire broke out among the five men as Davon stepped out of his mother's car, police and family members said.
Davon was rushed to the Children's National Hospital after the shooting, where he died, Wanda Ayala said.
His grandmother recalled seeing her grandson laying still, on a table, at the hospital.
"I said, 'Wake up Davon, baby, wake up, baby, mama's here,'" she told DCist/WAMU.
Friends and family have remembered Davon as a gifted football player who dreamed of playing in the NFL. The boy promised to "buy my mother the biggest house I can find," once he made it, Wanda Ayala recalled.
Children and parents gathered to grieve on Wednesday at Cedar Gardens, the apartment complex in Southeast, D.C. where Davon lived with his family. Children created posters memorializing Davon and declared, "Kids Lives Matter."
Terron Acker, a 12-year-old who played football with Davon, wore a t-shirt with Davon's nickname that read, "Long Live Day-Day."
"I really loved him," Terron said.
Davon's death has reignited calls for an end to gun violence in the District, as the numbers of homicides in the city surge. Ninety-four people in the District have been killed this year, a 19 percent increase compared to the same time last year, according to police data.
John Ayala started a chapter of the Guardian Angels in D.C., an organization that patrols streets, counsels criminal offenders and mentors youth. At Thursday's news conference, the grandfather said he was thankful for the quick arrest and for the outpouring of community support his family has received
"I'm feeling a lot of joy, on that part," he said. "But, of course, I'm sad because I lost my grandson."