D.C. Police chief addresses safety concerns following Fourth of July beating death of convenience store owner

WASHINGTON (WJLA) – Many Northwest D.C. residents fear for their safety after robbers struck a local convenience store on the Fourth of July and beat the owner to death.

The upper 14th Street community is still mourning the loss of 76-year-old James Oh, the husband, father and store owner who was killed on Independence Day.

“It’s a wonderful community and it’s just sad to think these kinds of things happen,” said Niva Kramek.

Concerned, frustrated neighbors packed a community meeting on Wednesday night. It was standing room only at the meeting, during which Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier tried to ease the fears and answer questions from neighbors on edge.

Chief Lanier told residents that the key to solving this crime may rest in the public’s hands and asked for help to get the two killers off the streets. She went on to say that while her officers have concentrated patrols in the area, a lot will be up to the community.

Even though the suspects’ faces are masked in a surveillance video of the violent crime, something in the footage might jog someone’s memory. Someone may have spotted the male suspects in their getaway car, which was located nearby the next day, on the 3100 block of Park Place. The suspects were driving a stolen black Jeep Cherokee with D.C. plates. Chief Lanier said somebody in the community may have actually seen the killers.

“People are not going to go in and commit this type of crime in a small neighborhood business if they’re not familiar with the neighborhood and not familiar with the business,” she said. “The chance that these individuals have been in the neighborhood or been in the business before is pretty good.”

In addition to meeting with members of the community Wednesday evening, Chief Lanier met with dozens of business owners in the area earlier that afternoon.

Neighbors are also encouraging each other to speak up.

“The young people, the old people, the people in between—they need to get up off their behinds and do something about it,” Dorris Dutch said. “I know somebody knows something. I know somebody knows something.”

Chief Lanier says police are processing the leads they received from the getaway vehicle and fielding tips.

So far, more than 13,000 people have viewed the surveillance footage of the Independence Day homicide online.

There is a $25,000 reward in the case.