WASHINGTON (7News) — A Metro Transit employee was shot and killed Wednesday after an altercation with a gunman on the platform of the Potomac Avenue Metro Station, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.
The shooting happened in the 1400 block of Potomac Avenue in southeast D.C. shortly before 9 a.m., MPD said.
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Police said the incident began after the suspect, identified as 31-year-old Isaiah Trotman, of Southeast, D.C., got off a Metrobus and got into argument with a man, who he shot in the leg. He then entered Potomac Avenue Metro Station and got into an altercation with a man buying a Metro card and also shot him in the leg. Both victims were taken to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
After reportedly shooting two people, police said Trotman went further down to the platform of the station and got into an altercation with a woman. At that time, two Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) employees intervened, and one was shot by the suspect.
Police said the Metro employee, identified as 64-year-old Robert Cunningham, was pronounced dead at the scene. The other Metro employee suffered a fragmentation injury to the hand, police added.
"His heroism has to be recognized here today," said Ashan Benedict, executive assistant chief of police for MPD. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family and his heroic actions he took."
Shortly after, police said Trotman got on a train that wasn't moving. Police said, per the initial report, bystanders tackled the gunman and disarmed him.
"Other witnesses actually tackled the shooting," Benedict said. "I think they saved lives."
Trotman was then taken into custody and charged with first-degree murder. His gun was found by police on the tracks. Police said either the bystanders who tackled the suspect threw it there or it slid there as they disarmed him. MPD told 7News Thursday that Trotman has been hospitalized. It is unclear for what, at this time.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser joined MPD at an 11:30 a.m. press conference and addressed an uptick in gun violence in the District.
"This is what we're very focused on, we're focused on how we get guns, and how we get guns out of the city, whether it's the Metro, it's the street, it's individual homes, we know that we have guns that are creating tragedy in our city and in our nation and we all have to be very focused on that," Bowser said.
"I wish we could have been there faster," Benedict said. "Our officers were there within minutes of getting the call for service, but duly heroic actions by our citizens, our community to disarm this shooter. I can't put a price on that I think they saved lives."
Metro General Manager Randy Clarke called the incident an American gun violence issue.
"We are working very hard, we've increased police patrols I think 25 to 30% in the last six months. We've hired mental health crisis intervention counselors. We're installing more video and upgrading our video systems, which again, this case would be a good case of the value of that," Clarke said.
Metro also lowered its flags to half-staff following the incident.
Police said they are working to determine the motive of the shooting and said Trotman was "clearly agitated about something."
Metro's Orange, Silver and Blue Line service has been restored between Federal Center Southwest and Stadium-Armory stations. Potomac Ave Station has reopened.
Wednesday's deadly incident is the latest in a series of shootings at Metro stations across the District, including one in December where three people were shot at the Benning Road Metro Station.
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People stopped by and left flowers outside the station Wednesday evening in memory of Cunningham.
A GoFundMe has been made for Cunningham's family after his heroic efforts. If you would like to donate, you can follow this link.