Ethan Melzer Wiki – Biography
Ethan Melzer has been arrested in the killings of four people during a spate of shootings that D.C. police said involved the Simple City crew, a violent group that was notorious back when the District was known as the nation’s murder capital.
The age of the suspect, who had a birthday in March, along with the rapid number of shootings police attribute to him over a seven-week stretch from April into May, has shocked law enforcement officials and concerned others who work to resolve conflicts in the District’s most troubled wards.
Ethan Melzer Age
Ethan Melzer is 16 years old.
Arrested and Charged
Mason is charged in the fatal shootings on April 7 of Brea Moon, 21, of District Heights, Md.; on May 19 of Jaszel Henderson, 20, and Terrance Griffin, 31, outside a store in the 2400 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE.; and on May 22 of Antwuan Roach, 18, of Southeast Washington, in the 3800 block of East Capitol Street NE.
D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said juveniles are arrested in few serious crimes compared with adults, and the 30-year veteran could not recall another case where a teen that young has faced so many serious charges.
Police said in an arrest affidavit that the victims include a woman who was used as a “human shield” by a person who was being targeted by a gunman. In addition to those killed, five other people were wounded in shootings. All but one of the incidents happened in Southeast Washington.
Police identified the teenager as Michael Mason, whose address was listed in the Navy Yard area of Southeast Washington. He was charged as an adult and has been ordered detained on four counts of first-degree murder while armed and four counts of assault with intent to kill, among other charges.
Mason denied his involvement in the shootings during interviews with homicide detectives, according to the affidavit, and it was not clear whether police allege that the youth or someone else pulled the trigger in many of the cases. Mason blamed the driver of a vehicle in one of the fatal shootings, though police said the evidence did not support his claim.
Mason’s attorney did not respond to an interview request Monday, and a man who identified himself as Mason’s father declined to comment when reached by phone. The boy’s mother did not return calls. Police said in the court affidavit that the first shooting Mason is charged in occurred 11 days after he was released from juvenile detention.
Police said they linked a .40-caliber handgun to several of the shootings. Police also said Mason tried to sell a .40-caliber gun on Instagram after one of the homicides.
Brea Moon, 21, of District Heights, Md.; on May 19 of Jaszel Henderson, 20, and Terrance Griffin, 31, outside a store in the 2400 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE.; and on May 22 of Antwuan Roach, 18, of Southeast Washington, in the 3800 block of East Capitol Street NE.
Little could be learned about Mason on Monday, including where or if he attended school. Court records say he was recently held by juvenile authorities for absconding, or escape, though details were not provided. Nearly all details of his past record with police are sealed because of his juvenile status.
In recent years, the group known as Simple City has been more of a storied tale of a more violent time during the District’s crack wars during the late 1980s into the mid-1990s, when the city was awash in killings.
Mason was initially identified after a victim gave police a photo of a person he identified as the shooter and authorities used facial recognition software to compare it with images of Mason on social media. The affidavit describes a complex investigation in which police gathered details from multiple witnesses and collected evidence from cellphone towers.
The arrest might help explain a surge of violence over the past two months in Anacostia, but it raises many other questions left unanswered in an arrest affidavit that numbers more than 30 pages but does not describe the precise motives in many of the shootings.
Instead, authorities describe a broader and long-standing feud between Simple City, which operates in neighborhoods along Benning Road, and a group called “37th,” named after a street near Anacostia.
But the group never disappeared. Ronald L. Moten, who has spent decades working with young people to tame violence in the District, said the third generation of Simple City members has taken up for their fathers and grandfathers.
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“You have to give young people something to live for and to value life,” Moten said. “Their power is in the gun. When we don’t empower them, they empower themselves with a gun.”
Simple City is a street moniker for what essentially is the Benning Ridge neighborhood, and Newsham, who once patrolled that area, takes exception to referring to it by that name, with all its negative connotations.
“That area has changed pretty dramatically over my career in a very positive way,” Newsham said.
The first shooting listed among Mason’s charges occurred the night of April 7. Police said Moon was shot in a vehicle along Alabama Avenue in Southeast Washington. The driver continued into Suitland, Md., where Moon was discovered. She died at a hospital.
Police said Mason admitted to being in the back of a white Honda Crosstour, which police say was used in the shooting, but identified the driver as the gunman. Police said Mason told them that the driver fired through the passenger-side window. But, police said, had that been the case, bullet casings would have flown in the back; instead, police said, they found four .40-caliber shell casings on the street, indicating the shooter stuck the gun out a window and fired.
In the affidavit, police said that Mason said he “did not even know there was a female in the car they shot at. The defendant admitted the intention of the killing was someone else who had been causing problems in his neighborhood.”
The affidavit says the real target shielded himself behind Moon as the bullets intended for that person struck her instead.
In addition to Mason, police also charged Daquan Jones, 19, of Northeast Washington, with first-degree murder in Moon’s killing.
A relative of Moon declined to comment on Monday.
The only other killing for which police provided a specific, possible motive was of Roach on East Capitol Street. Police said that he was blamed for a shooting on a Simple City member in 2019, and that he and Mason had met before in a juvenile facility and exchanged words.
Roach’s family could not be reached Monday.