A dispute over a food subsidy card sparked a shooting that killed a toddler

On Wednesday morning, when the gunfire rang out — more than a dozen shots in five seconds, punctuated by the screams of neighbors — Shahruz Khan, 29, was in the basement of his townhouse in the South Cove complex in northern Virginia. Kahn said he hurried upstairs and, with his mother by his side, looked out the window at the parking lot.

There, lying on the pavement, they saw what turned out to be a 17-year-old girl crying for help as blood poured from her gunshot wounds.

And that wasn’t the worst of it. Three doors to Kahn’s left, inside the brick townhouse where the teenager lived, four other youths, including a 3-year-old girl, were also shot. Of the five victims, many of them siblings, four were hospitalized in critical condition, authorities in Prince William County, Virginia, said.

The toddler’s wounds are fatal.

3-year-old girl dead, 4 teenagers seriously injured in shooting in Virginia

Kahn knew nothing of the carnage at 10:49 a.m. Wednesday as he and his mother stood just outside the front door of their home in the 17900 block of Milroy Drive in Dumfries, 30 miles south of Washington. After a few minutes, despite their fears of another fusillade, they said, they ran to help the victim on the lot. While they and another neighbor tended to her, a police officer arrived and, while administering first aid, asked the teenager what had happened.

“Then she said it was her boyfriend,” Kahn recalled in an interview. “She kept saying it over and over again – her boyfriend was the one who shot everyone. And I heard her say ‘brown timberlands’ and ‘black pants’ because the officer wanted a description.”

A short time later, police arrested Kenyatta Lee Oglesby, 20, of the county, and charged him with one count of murder, four counts of grievous bodily harm and five counts of using a firearm to commit a felony. A longtime family friend of the victims said in an interview that the shooting apparently stemmed from a dispute between Oglesby and the 17-year-old girl over a government-issued subsidy card used to buy food.

A three-year-old girl is dead and four teenagers are injured after a shooting in Dumfries, Virginia. A neighbor’s doorbell camera captured the sound of the gunshots. (Video: Shahrooz and Farzana Khan)

Police said Oglesby had been staying at the townhouse recently. Court records show he failed to appear at a D.C. court hearing on a gun case in October and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Two firearms were recovered in the early hours of the investigation, police said, without providing further details.

Longtime family friend Alix Grimm, 34, said the youngsters lived in the townhouse with the siblings’ grandmother, who was at work at the time of the shooting. In addition to the 3-year-old girl, two 17-year-olds, a 16-year-old and a 14-year-old were hit. Another 14-year-old was also in the house but unharmed, Grimm said.

“I’m just in complete shock,” Grimm said. “I was speechless all day yesterday… This is outrageous. We’re just confused as to what would make him shoot… over the food stamps and go inside and try to kill everyone else. There’s no point.”

Later in a Facebook post, she said of the injured teenagers: “One can talk now that she is not intubated. The other three open their eyes and seem eager to communicate, but are currently unable due to the breathing tube. All 4 children have had surgeries and the potential for more. But for now they are stable. Please continue to pray for the children and family. It’s a long journey ahead.”

Amy Ashworth, the chief prosecutor in Prince William County, said that because of the age of the victims, the case was initially heard in the county’s Juvenile Court and National Court, where Oglesby made his initial appearance and was ordered held without bail pending a preliminary ruling hearing on March 23. It is not yet clear whether he has entered a plea to the charges or is represented by a lawyer. Ashworth declined to comment further.

Authorities said Oglesby, who was arrested near the scene of the attack, had been dating the 17-year-old girl. Speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, a law enforcement official also confirmed that Oglesby and the girl had argued about a financial matter Tuesday night and that the argument carried over into Wednesday, culminating in the shooting.

Grimm said the siblings were among eight children of a woman who died. According to neighbors, the young men moved into the townhouse a few months ago. Grimm said some of the five teenagers who were shot were not in school Wednesday because two had not yet transferred into the Prince William system and one was attending school online.

The law enforcement official said investigators believe Oglesby shot the four wounded victims in the basement of the home and that the 17-year-old girl ran outside before being shot in the parking lot.

One of the wounded teenagers was wearing hearing aids and was shot while he was sleeping, Grimm said. As for the slain 3-year-old girl, Grimm said “she was the sweetest baby, full-faced, angelic-looking, and had the kindest spirit.”

Three doors down from the shooting scene, Kahn and his mother, Farzana Kahn, 55, said Thursday they knew little about the young people who were shot. “They had a lot of gatherings like anyone else, but there were no problems,” Shahruz Khan said. “I’ve seen a lot of teenagers coming in and out recently, but not too many. There were not any problems.”

At their kitchen table, Farazana Khan wrings her hands and says of the youngsters, “Sometimes I see them playing outside. They are good people. Children are good. The little girl, the baby, she is a very good little girl.” The Kahns’ doorbell camera captured sound of the shooting, which they shared with a reporter.

Within minutes of the Kahns and another neighbor reaching the 17-year-old girl in the parking lot, the first officer on the scene was joined by others as multiple emergency vehicles rushed into the South Cove complex and the cul-de-sac where the shooting erupted. An officer opened the front door of the townhouse where the teenagers lived and carefully stepped inside.

“Anyone home?” Shahrooz Kahn heard the officer call. “Anyone home?”

Moments later, he reappeared at the door, Kahn said.

“He yelled something like, ‘We’re going to need backup! Get back up!'”

Peter Herman contributed to this report.

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