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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

District Man Pleads Guilty to Charges in Shootings That Targeted Two Off-Duty Metropolitan Police Department Officers

Defendant's Brother Pleads Guilty to Related Offenses

            WASHINGTON – Romeo T. Hayes, 28, and his brother, Ronald J. Hayes, Jr., also known as “Rocky,” 20, of Washington, D.C., entered guilty pleas today to charges stemming from the shooting of Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Detective Thurman Stallings, and the attempted shooting of MPD Officer Shaquinta Gaines, both of whom were off-duty.

            The guilty pleas were announced by U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department.

            Under what is known as the Alford doctrine, Romeo T. Hayes pled guilty in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to eight felonies and one misdemeanor. Specifically, he pled guilty to one count of assault with intent to kill stemming from the shooting of Detective Stallings; one count of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence; one count of assault with a dangerous weapon (gun); one count of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle; three counts of felony destruction of property; one count of fleeing from a law enforcement officer; and one count of misdemeanor destruction of property.  Under an Alford plea, the defendant does not admit the allegations but agrees that the government has enough evidence to secure a conviction.

            The plea, which is contingent upon the Court’s approval, calls for a 10-year prison sentence. The Honorable Jennifer Anderson scheduled sentencing for Feb. 19, 2016.

            Ronald J. Hayes, Jr., who otherwise is serving a 12-year sentence for two counts of vehicular manslaughter in Prince George’s County, Md., pled guilty to one count of tampering with physical evidence.  The plea, which is contingent upon the Court’s approval, calls for a sentence of 16 months in prison. He also is to be sentenced on Feb. 19, 2016.

            According to the government’s evidence, on Tuesday night, Aug. 12, 2014, both Romeo T. Hayes and Ronald J. Hayes, Jr., together with several other individuals, were at a home in Glenarden, Md.  Romeo Hayes was consuming tequila and also taking drugs known as “Mollies,” a toxic mixture of laboratory-created or synthetic chemicals that stimulates the central nervous system and causes euphoric highs similar to those created by ecstasy.

            At some point, Romeo Hayes indicated that he wanted to go to a nightclub known as the Opera Ultra Lounge, in the 1400 block of I Street NW.  Accordingly, in the early morning hours of Aug. 13, 2014, Romeo Hayes and another individual left the home to head to the nightclub. Romeo Hayes drove there in a red 2013 Nissan Altima that he knew recently had been stolen from a rental car agency at Ronald Reagan National Airport.  Video footage from the nightclub captured Romeo Hayes and his companion entering the nightclub at about 12:50 a.m.

            Video footage also captured Romeo Hayes and his companion leaving the Opera nightclub at approximately 2:24 a.m.  Because Romeo Hayes had been drinking alcohol, and had consumed drugs known as “Mollies,” as well as some marijuana, the individual who was with Romeo Hayes obtained the car keys to the stolen red 2013 Nissan Altima and assumed the role as driver.  Romeo Hayes sat in the front passenger seat.  Romeo Hayes had a black Glock 17 9mm semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine in the stolen red 2013 Nissan Altima.

            The individual who was with Romeo Hayes started to drive back to the house in Glenarden, Md. As the individual drove outbound on Suitland Parkway in Southeast Washington, in the right lane, just before the exit for Alabama Avenue SE, at about 2:47 a.m., Romeo Hayes fired two or three gunshots from the window adjacent to the front passenger seat.  The gunshots were directed at a white Nissan Maxima occupied by Officer Gaines, who was in the left lane and who was off-duty at the time and driving home.  One of the bullets fired by Romeo Hayes struck the white Nissan Maxima, causing substantial damage to the car.

            Thereafter, with Officer Gaines following behind, the individual who was with Romeo Hayes sped off and drove to Southern Avenue, where – in the left lane – he came to a stop light at the intersection of Southern and Pennsylvania Avenues SE.  In the right lane, also at the stop light, was Detective Stallings, who was alone in a GMC Yukon Denali, and who was off-duty but on his way to work.  From the front passenger seat, Romeo Hayes fired multiple gunshots at Detective Stallings, striking him with a bullet in the left forearm and inflicting significant damage to the driver-side of the GMC Yukon Denali.

            Wounded, Detective Stallings rammed the red 2013 Nissan Altima in an effort to disable it and to prevent the shooter and any other occupants from escaping.  When that occurred, the stolen red Nissan Altima pivoted in front of the GMC Yukon Denali. Romeo Hayes fired an additional volley of shots at Detective Stallings, striking him three additional times in the chest and shoulder area, and also damaging the windshield behind which he sat.

            At the urging of Romeo Hayes, the individual who was with him managed to drive off.  He turned left off of Southern Avenue onto Massachusetts Avenue.  There, in the 4200 block of Massachusetts Avenue SE, just off of Southern Avenue SE, Romeo Hayes again began to shoot at the white Nissan Maxima occupied by off-duty Officer Gaines, who had been following them, who had reported the license tag number for the stolen red Nissan Altima to a 9-1-1 call-taker, and who had witnessed the collision between the Altima and the GMC Yukon Denali at the intersection of Southern and Pennsylvania Avenues SE.

            After this third and last shooting, the individual who was with Romeo Hayes drove rapidly back to the house in Glenarden. He parked near that residence and ran inside, followed by Romeo Hayes.  Inside the residence were Ronald Hayes, Jr., and several other individuals.  The individual who was with Romeo Hayes quietly told Ronald Hayes, Jr., about the shootings, and expressed concern that Romeo Hayes fired gunshots for no apparent reason and may have killed someone.  He also gave Ronald Hayes, Jr., the keys to the red 2013 Nissan Altima.

            Romeo Hayes gave the Glock 17 9mm pistol with the extended magazine to his brother, who quickly concealed – and later hid – the gun.  Romeo Hayes and Ronald Hayes, Jr., then began to argue. Their voices were elevated and firm.  Ronald Hayes, Jr., demanded to know exactly what Romeo Hayes had done, and why.  For his part, Romeo Hayes demanded the car keys for the stolen red 2013 Nissan Altima.  Romeo Hayes said he wanted to purchase some gasoline and “blow the car up,” to degrade and devalue it as evidence.  Following several minutes of loud argument, Romeo Hayes obtained the car keys from his brother.

            Romeo Hayes then left and ran back to the stolen red 2013 Nissan Altima, which had suffered significant damage on the passenger side when it was rammed by the GMC Yukon Denali driven by Detective Stallings.  Romeo Hayes drove off, and soon was spotted and followed by the police.  Multiple police units, including MPD officers, Prince George’s County Police Department officers, and a United States Park Police helicopter, were involved in the pursuit of the stolen red Nissan Altima.  Romeo Hayes drove at a high rate of speed, and attempted to elude the police during this pursuit.

            The pursuit came to an end in the 5500 block of Hunt Place NE, between 3:45 a.m. and 4 a.m., where Romeo Hayes ultimately was arrested. He has been in custody ever since.

            In announcing the guilty pleas, U.S. Attorney Phillips and Chief Lanier commended the work of the detectives of the Criminal Investigations Division Homicide Branch, crime scene officers, and the Sixth and Seventh Police Districts of the Metropolitan Police Department.  They also commended the work of the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Prince George’s County, Md., Police Department, and a helicopter unit of the United States Park Police.  They expressed appreciation of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Criminal Investigators Derek Starliper, Durand Odom, and Mark Crawford; Paralegal Specialist Debra Joyner; Investigative Analysts Shannon Alexis and Zachary McMenamin, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jocelyn Ballantine, Karen Seifert, John Marston, Lindsey Merikas, and Jessica Brooks.  Finally, U.S. Attorney Phillips and Chief Lanier praised the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael D. Brittin, who investigated and prosecuted the case.

Press Release Number: 
Updated February 4, 2016