Arrest made in death of 6-year-old Nyiah Courtney, officials say

A 22-year-old man has been arrested in the death of 6-year-old Nyiah Courtney, who was shot and killed in Southeast D.C. on July 16, the Metropolitan Police Department told WUSA9 Wednesday.

Marktwan Hargraves, 22, was taken into custody by D.C. Police and the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force Wednesday morning, D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee III said during a news conference on Wednesday. Hargraves was found inside of an apartment in Southeast D.C. and has been charged with first-degree murder.

Contee also mentioned that 16 people were recently indicted for drug-related crimes in the community Nyiah was shot. He confirmed that Nyiah’s father was a part of the group who were indicted in the drug crimes. Contee said it is possible that Nyiah’s death is related to these drug crimes.

Contee said during the drive-by shooting, Nyiah’s father was out there on the block and he ended up getting shot, and a person who was included in the drug indictment was shot the day before.

The shooting happened on Malcolm X and MLK Boulevard in the 2900 block in Southeast D.C. around 11 p.m., according to Chief Contee. He said officers heard shots of gunfire coming from that intersection.

When people started to scatter and disperse in the area, officers arrived on the scene, they found six gunshot victims. Five adults were transported to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, and Nyiah was the only one pronounced dead on Friday, police said.

D.C. Police officers that arrived at the shooting tried to save Nyiah, even putting her in a police cruiser and taking her to a hospital, knowing she was in a dire situation, according to Contee.

Chief Contee confirmed that Niyah’s mother also suffered serious injuries during the shooting.

A vehicle of interest described as a silver or grey four-door sedan was recovered by police shortly after the department briefed the community about the shooting.

According to Chief Contee, the car was on fire when police recovered it in the 500 block of Eastern Avenue Northeast. Chief Contee said forensic crews investigated the burned car to see if there were any leads into who may have been driving when the shooting occurred.

Police announced a $60,000 reward for anyone who can provide tips or information which leads to the arrest of the person or persons responsible. Those with information can call the police’s Command Information Center at 202-727-9099 or text anonymously to 50411.

No motivation has been identified in the shooting as well, according to authorities.

A Southeast D.C. community protested the renewal of a liquor store’s license, Mart Liquor, on the same corner earlier this year in May 2021.

“This is a community that is saturated with liquor stores. And looking at the D.C. Health Equity Report published by Mayor Bowser, it says that areas that are suffering from low economic development are at high risk of violence when they also are coupled with saturated, high alcohol density institutions,” Salim Adofo, Chairperson for Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8C said. “And so what we see is there are about seven liquor stores in this corridor and we looked at the MPD crime data and within 2,000 feet of this liquor store, there has been one murder every 90 days.”

D.C. Police crime data showed there had been 25 homicides in the three-quarter-mile radius surrounding Mart Liquor over the last two years at the time in May.

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