Washington, D.C., employee charged with second-degree murder in shooting death of 13-year-old Karon Blake

A Washington, D.C., employee was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy, police said Tuesday.

Jason Lewis, 41, surrendered to police Tuesday morning and was taken into custody, Metropolitan Police Chief Robert J. Contee III said at a news conference Tuesday morning.

Lewis was charged with second-degree murder while armed following an investigation and presentation of the case to a grand jury, Contee said. The charges come about three weeks after police said a man shot and killed Karon Blake, a middle school student, at about 4 a.m. on Jan. 7 after the man believed that someone was tampering with vehicles.

Police gave new details Tuesday about what occurred during the early morning shooting. Lewis, Contee said, stepped outside his door but remained on his property, firing first at a “getaway vehicle that was parked nearby.” Contee said that Karon “and another person who was unidentified began to run, at some point Karon ran toward Mr. Lewis and Mr. Lewis fired a shot, striking Karon and killing him.”

Authorities previously said a man left his home with a registered firearm, got into “an interaction” with Karon, and fired his weapon, killing the teenager. Contee said Tuesday that there was “no confrontation” between Lewis and Karon before the teenager was shot.

Contee said Tuesday that it appeared Karon was trying to make his way back to the getaway vehicle, but the car reversed into an alley and crashed, and Karon ran in a direction toward Lewis. He said he did not know if Karon knew where Lewis was standing.

Two other juveniles who were seen running from the scene have not yet been identified. Contee asked for them to come forward.

“Anytime we have a loss of life, especially that of a child, that’s something that really just pierces my soul, to be quite honest with you,” Contee said. “Here we have a kid who is dead who shouldn’t be. 

“This young man shouldn’t be dead. But, he is, and now again we have to go through the course of the judicial process,” he said.

An attorney for Lewis said his client maintains his innocence.

“While this is certainly a tragedy, once all the facts are heard, I believe that a jury will find that there was no crime here,” attorney Lee Smith said. “Mr. Lewis has dedicated his career to mentoring and supporting youth in the District of Columbia, which only adds to how distraught he is over the death of Karon Blake. Mr. Lewis and his family offer heartfelt condolences to Karon’s family and other loved ones.”

The shooting outraged the community as residents pressed the police for answers before Tuesday’s announcement of charges. Many said that alleged tampering with material property should not result in a person being killed.

“Property is not greater than life. Karon should be alive today,” councilmember Christina Henderson tweeted. Ward 5 councilmember Zachary Parker said in a statement that he was “outraged by Karon’s killing.”

“No car or material possession is worth a life — under any circumstances,” he said. 

Karon, of Northeast Washington, was a student at Brookland Middle School. The school’s principal, Kerry Richardson, said in a note to the school’s staff, obtained by NBC Washington, that he was a “quiet and inquisitive scholar who loved fashion and football.”

“Although he loved his neighborhood, he loved Brookland MS (the faculty & his peers) and the structure it presented to him even more,” Richardson wrote.

The teen’s grandfather said he’s grieving that Karon never got a chance to grow up.

“He’s too young — 13 years old,” Sean Long previously told NBC News. “That’s what’s killing me, he’s a baby.”

Marlene Lenthang, Phil Helsel and Daniella Silva contributed.

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