District Teenager Sentenced To Eight Years In Prison For Shooting Classmate At Coolidge High School -Defendant Opened Fire In Parking Lot As Classes Let Out-
WASHINGTON – Brandon Smothers, 17, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to eight years of incarceration for shooting a classmate last year in the parking lot of Coolidge High School, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.
Smothers, who was charged as an adult, pled guilty in October 2012 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to one count of aggravated assault while armed. He was sentenced by the Honorable Patricia A. Broderick. Upon completion of his prison term, Smothers will be placed on five years of supervised release.
According to the government’s evidence, Smothers and the 18-year-old victim were involved in a verbal altercation inside their classroom on Sept. 19, 2012. Smothers was escorted out of the classroom and subsequently left the school premises. The victim was allowed to stay in the classroom after the altercation and even helped other students with their school work.
At about 3 p.m., as classes were ending for the day, Smothers confronted the victim in the parking lot of the school, which is in the 6300 block of 5th Street NW. At the time, the victim was walking to get on a school bus. Smothers and the victim exchanged words. Smothers then pulled a black .380 semiautomatic handgun from his waist area and pointed it at the victim’s chest area. The victim turned around and, as he ran away, Smothers fired the gun at him several times. Four shots hit the victim in the leg and lower body area.
Other students were in the parking lot at the time and on a bus in the parking lot. As the victim was running, he attempted to shield other students from the gunfire. The high school was placed on lockdown for the safety of students, teachers and staff.
Officers with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) saw Smothers fleeing the scene on foot and stopped him in the 100 block of Rittenhouse Street NW. They recovered the firearm from the path he had been taking, as well as shell casings from the school parking lot.
The victim was transported to Washington Hospital Center, where he required immediate surgery for his wounds. Smothers subsequently provided a statement to police in which he acknowledged shooting the victim.
“This case demonstrates how quickly a gun can escalate a classroom squabble into a life-threatening confrontation,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “When parents send their kids off to school, they should never have to worry that their child could be caught in a hail of gunfire during the school day. Our decision to charge this shooter as an adult is a reflection of how seriously we take gun crimes in the District and how committed we are to keeping our schools free of gun violence.”
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen commended the efforts of the MPD, which investigated the case. He also acknowledged the work of those who handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Debra Smith and Lynda Randolph and Victim/Witness Advocate Jennifer Clark. Finally, he praised the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Philip A. Selden and Vivien Cockburn, who prosecuted the case.