The person of interest connected to a shooting that left at least four people injured in Washington, D.C., on Friday was found dead in a nearby apartment, officials said.
The Metropolitan Police Department named Raymond Spencer as the person of interest earlier in the day, linking the 23-year-old Virginia resident to the incident after discovering concerning social media posts claiming responsibility for the attack.
"We believe that the suspect took his own life as MPD members were entering or breaching the apartment where the suspect was located,” Police Chief Robert Contee told reporters Friday.
The identity of the dead suspect could not be confirmed, Contee said, but officials close to the investigation told the Washington Post it was the man police deemed a person of interest earlier Friday. Police believe the suspect was the only shooter connected to the shooting, giving the surrounding neighborhoods the all-clear and saying the community is “now safe.”
The incident is still under investigation as officials seek to determine a motive. However, the shooting seems to have been random with no targeted victims.
"Obviously, his intent was to kill and to hurt members of our community," Contee said.
Police linked Spencer to the incident after discovering social media posts purportedly claiming responsibility for the shooting.
“Dear God please forgive me,” one post reads.
“Waiting for police to catch up with me,” another says.
The MPD had declared an “active threat” in the Van Ness neighborhood in northwest Washington on Friday afternoon, issuing a shelter-in-place for nearby residents amid a heavy police presence and road closures. Two adult males, an adult female, and one child were shot, although the extent of their injuries is unclear, officials said.
🚨MPD is seeking the below person of interest in connection to the shooting in the 2900 block of Van Ness Street, NW. This individual is 23 year-old Raymond Spencer of Fairfax, Virginia. 🚨 pic.twitter.com/ziR0Vutw0p— DC Police Department (@DCPoliceDept) April 22, 2022
TEENAGE VICTIMS IDENTIFIED IN PITTSBURGH EARLY MORNING EASTER SHOOTING
The four victims had been transported to area hospitals and are being treated for minor gunshot wounds, with each of them in stable condition, police said. No law enforcement officials were injured while responding to the scene.
Earlier in the day, police in heavy tactical gear were seen carrying shields into an apartment building on Connecticut Avenue as they evacuated the area.
Police were seen escorting a man in handcuffs out of the area earlier in the day, as officers said they had taken some people into custody who were running from the scene to conduct witness interviews.
Law enforcement evacuated people from nearby buildings, warning residents the area may be under a shelter-in-place order for a few more hours. That order was lifted around 10 p.m. after police announced the suspect's death.
Secret Service agents and the Park Police also responded to the scene, arriving at around 5:10 p.m., almost two hours after the shots were first reported at 3:20 p.m.
Police conducted searches of several buildings in the area, noting the shooter was not inside a building when the shooting occurred.
Three ambulances also arrived at the scene at around 4:50 p.m., although it’s not clear whether there were more injuries in addition to the four reported.
The Van Ness location of the University of the District of Columbia issued a campuswide lockdown in response to the incident, noting the shooting occurred near student housing on Connecticut Avenue and Van Ness Street.
Nearby Edmund Burke School also went under lockdown orders shortly after the gunshots were reported. Those orders have since been lifted, and officials are working to reunite students with their families, Mayor Muriel Bowser told reporters.
The U.S. Capitol Police set up a perimeter fence around the Capitol in response to the shooting, issuing a period of “secure mode” until the matter is resolved.
Bowser grieved after the "heartbreaking day" and called for an end to the "epidemic of gun violence in our country."
"This has got to stop," she said in a Friday night email. "People should not be scared taking their children to school. People should not be scared sitting in their cars when they run errands. People should not be scared standing outside their homes and talking to neighbors."
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
Officials designated a family reunification site at the Cleveland Park Library, roughly half a mile away from the school, where they can receive updates from the MPD.
The MPD had conducted a joint investigation with members of the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.