Prosecutors opened their case charging Deonte Bryant and Terrance Bush with the June 25, 2011 Caribbean Festival shooting death of 43-year-old Robert Foster Jr. Monday with eyewitness testimony from those near the festival when the deadly shots were fired.
According to the government’s case, Bryant and Bush attended the festival armed with the intent to find and shoot rival crew member Terry Jimenez. Once they found him— or he found them— all three men engaged in a shootout.
Foster was caught in the crossfire.
“Both sides brought their guns. Both sides, as the evidence will show, are responsible,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff said.
Bryant and Bush are charged with first-degree murder while armed and related weapons offenses in connection with Foster’s death.
They also face assault charges related to two other victims who were shot that day and survived.
Jimenez pleaded guilty in April to three out of the original eighteen charges against him. The charges he pleaded guilty to were first-degree murder while armed, assault with intent to kill, and aggravated assault knowingly while armed.
Charging documents in the case claim that Bryant was a member of the “Clifton Terrace University” gang, a rival crew to Jimenez’s, “Hobart Stars.”
Court documents state that Jimenez had returned to DC after spending several months in Buffalo, N.Y., where he stayed after the February shooting of his close friend, Lucki Pannell. Police believed that Jimenez was the target in that shooting.
Bryant and Bush saw Jimenez at the Caribbean festival on Georgia Avenue on June 25, 2011, and when Bryant and Bush turned to leave the festival down Gresham Place Northwest, Jimenez and his friends followed them, police say.
Jimenez walked to the 700 block of Gresham Place, ducked behind a car, and exchanged fire with Bryant and Bush, who shot back at him while retreating toward Sherman Ave. Northwest, police say.
In the shootout Jimenez and two others were shot and injured. Foster, whose lower back and spinal cord were struck, was pronounced dead hours later.
In court Monday, Bryant’s defense attorney, Daniel Quillin, placed the blame for Foster’s death, and the other injuries, with Jimenez.
Jimenez, was a “crazed maniac,” who initiated the confrontation, Quillin said.
“Terry Jimenez was a man possessed, and was in a crazed state of mind stalking Deonte Bryant because of a mean minded look,” Quillin said. “Deonte Bryant acted in self defense.”
Bush’s defense attorney, Frank Mosley, said the shooting was not premeditated and that Bush didn’t know Jimenez. Bush had bumped into Bryant at the festival moments before the shooting, Mosley said.
Joshua Hertzberg, who witnessed the shooting from his front porch, told jurors Monday that at the festival he saw a black man wearing a white shirt with his arm extended and shooting a pistol toward Georgia Avenue.
Video footage retrieved from Hertzberg’s house surveillance system, shown in court, captures three black men retreating down Gresham Place. Two of the men have their arms extended and are believed to have been shooting in the direction of Georgia Avenue.
Alecia Harrison told jurors about being on Gresham Place when the shooting took place.
She was visiting a friend in the neighborhood, she said, and was walking back to her car when she was bumped in the left shoulder by a man walking in the opposite direction with two other men.
Seconds later Harrison heard gunshots.
“My friend, she tried to pull me around the corner,” Harrison said tears running down her eyes. “She made it. I didn’t.”
Harrison was shot through her intestines, stomach and liver. The bullet remains inside her.
The case is scheduled to continue trial Tuesday.