Washington, D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee’s voice was thick with anger on Saturday night as he talked about the latest victim of gun violence in the city: a bubbly 6-year-old named Nyiah Courtney, who was riding her scooter when a drive-by shooter snuffed out her life.
“I am asking that we all stand together and say, ‘No more!’’’ Contee said. “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
Just after 11 p.m. on Friday, Nyiah was on the street with her parents and sister when a barrage of gunfire erupted. Six people were shot; police bundled Nyiah into a patrol car and rushed to the hospital, but she could not be saved.
Also wounded was Nyiah’s mother, who underwent several surgeries and had not yet been told her child was killed, NBC Washington reported.
“Nyiah was starting the first grade this fall and now that won’t happen and frankly that is unacceptable to me and it should be for every resident of this city,” the chief said at a press conference.
“The cowards who committed this crime came into this community without any regard for human life—without regard for Nyiah’s life,” he added.
“It is time for us to say enough is enough.”
Police—who were on the scene 34 seconds after the first shot rang out—released video of the silver sedan involved in the shooting in southeast D.C., and authorities offered rewards totaling $60,000.
Although gun violence is up in many cities this year, statistics from the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department show the number of murders and assaults with a deadly weapon so far in 2021 is the same as at this point last year.
However, homicides in the district have doubled in the last decade.
Mayor Muriel Bowser called for members of the community to provide any information about the shooting to police.
“We don’t let people get away with murder in our town—and we don’t do street justice,” she said.
Asked whether the closure of recreation centers could be contributing to violence, Bowser grew defensive. “I’m not convinced that person who went through that intersection, popping off indiscriminately, would have been in a rec center—that’s a killer.”
D.C. Councilman Trayon White said more services were needed in the area, but called for the community to take responsibility for the safety of its children.
“No one is coming to save us but us,” he said.
Balloons tied to a lamppost served as a shrine to Nyiah as local residents and her family recalled an energetic little girl who was excited about starting a new school.
“She put a smile on everybody’s face,” Andrea Courtney, Nyiah’s grandmother, told The Washington Post.