District Man Found Guilty of Charges in Shooting at Columbia Heights Metro Station
Defendant Fired Gun in Broad Daylight; Victim Was Uninjured
WASHINGTON – Cesar Morales, 23, of Washington, D.C., was found guilty by a jury today of charges stemming from a shooting that took place last summer at the Columbia Heights Metro station in Northwest Washington, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu announced.
Morales was found guilty of assault with a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, and related firearm offenses. The verdict followed a one-week trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The Honorable Jennifer A. Di Toro scheduled sentencing for April 4, 2018.
According to the government’s evidence, on Aug. 25, 2017 at approximately 12:20 p.m., Morales chased the victim around the Columbia Heights Metro station. As they reached the top of the escalators on the west entrance, Morales fired one shot with a .22-caliber Ruger towards the victim. Luckily, the victim was able to run away and get through the station unharmed. At the time of the shooting, dozens of people were in and around the station.
Morales fled westbound on Irving Street NW, making a right on Hyatt Place and then a left onto Park Road NW. Within minutes, officers with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) were able to contact and attempted to stop the defendant and another individual. When officers asked to see Morales’s hands, the defendant reached in his waistband and fled from the officers. Officers observed Morales toss a firearm. Morales was able to get away.
Video surveillance captured the shooting outside the Metro station and the victim running inside the station. Body-worn camera of the officers captured the stop minutes after the shooting. MPD released video and an investigation led to Morales’s arrest on Aug. 31, 2017. He has been in custody ever since. A casing was recovered from the Metro station stairs that was determined to have been fired by the firearm recovered in defendant’s flight path.
In announcing the verdict, U.S. Attorney Liu commended the work of those who investigated the case from Metropolitan Police Department and Metro Transit Police Department. She expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the Forensic Science Laboratory of the District of Columbia Department of Forensic Sciences. She also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Michael Ambrosino, Special Counsel for DNA and Forensic Evidence Litigation; Forensic Operation/Program Specialist Benjamin Kagan-Guthrie; Paralegal Specialist Tiffany Fogle, Litigation Technology Specialist Anisha Bhatia, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff. Finally, she acknowledged the efforts of Assistant U.S. Attorney Monica Trigoso, who investigated and prosecuted the case.