WASHINGTON—A gunman opened fire on random victims from a sniper’s nest in an apartment building near an elite prep school in the nation’s capital on Friday, wounding four people, before taking his own life as police closed in, officials said.
Police said the suspect, Raymond Spencer, 23, of suburban Fairfax, Virginia, was initially identified from video he had posted on social media that appeared to show gunshots fired from the vantage point of an upper-floor window, with the misspelled label: “Shool shooting!”
Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee told a late-night news conference the video “looks very much to be authentic,” but it remained uncertain whether the footage was streamed live or had been posted after it was recorded.
Police had issued a bulletin with photographs of Spencer hours earlier saying they were seeking him as a “person of interest” in their investigation.
The shooting and manhunt paralyzed the upscale Van Ness neighborhood of northwest Washington next to the Edmund Burke School, a private college preparatory academy, just as classes were about to be dismissed for the day.
The school and other properties in the vicinity were placed under a security lockdown, with frightened students texting anxious parents as police mounted a door-to-door search for the suspect.
With help from eyewitness reports, police managed to pinpoint the gunman’s position to the fifth floor of a “particular apartment building” and ultimately “breached the location where the suspect took his own life,” Contee said.
Police seized more than half a dozen firearms, including several rifles, and large amounts of ammunition in the apartment, which had been arranged in a “sniper-type setup” with a tripod weapons mount, the chief said.
“His intent was to kill and hurt members of our community,” but investigators had yet to determine a motive, Contee said, adding that the gunman acted alone.
The four victims were shot at random as “they were going about their business … on the streets of the District of Columbia,” he told reporters.
Three people struck by gunfire were taken to area hospitals—a 54-year-old man and a woman in her mid-30s with severe wounds, and a 12-year-old girl wounded in the arm, Assistant Police Chief Stuart Emerman said during an earlier briefing.
A fourth victim, a woman in her mid-60s, was treated on the scene for a slight graze wound, Emerman said.
Eyewitnesses told Reuters and local media outlets they heard multiple bursts of rapid gunfire. Contee said at least 20 shots were fired.
By Chris Gallagher and Steve Gorman