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Witnesses describe D.C. Metro shooting rampage, and their daring intervention



He sat in a seat reserved for the elderly, facing the side of the Silver Line Metro car. He was dressed in gray sweats splashed with blood, his right hand holding a gun beside him on the seat.

“I killed too many people today,” said the man, who authorities later alleged was 31-year-old Isaiah Trotman, according to one of the passengers aboard the train that stopped at the Potomac Avenue station Wednesday morning. “I’m going to kill more.”

Shante Trumpet, commuting into work for her D.C. government job, was in a seat facing forward, inches from Trotman, her legs perpendicular to his. She was listening to the musical artist Drake on her phone. She stared at the gun and the hand holding it, as she said he let loose incoherent rantings about Harriet Tubman and the CIA.

“He was not going to let us go while he had that gun,” Trumpet recalled thinking, picturing her 11-year-old son and her 19-year-old daughter, and described the feeling of being held hostage.

Trumpet’s account Friday and that of another passenger offer a chilling perspective on the terror that jolted D.C. commuters two days earlier, when authorities alleged Trotman shot three people, including 64-year-old Robert Cunningham, a Metro mechanic who was killed when he tried to intervene. Another witness said the gunman uttered, “I’m the killmonger” as he rushed into the station at the end of the morning’s rush hour.

The two passengers interviewed Friday were among a small group of people who stopped the gunman before police came and arrested him. They said they feared far more casualties had they not taken action.


Metro employee killed while trying to stop man shooting at D.C. commuters

The man with the gun didn’t seem focused, Trumpet recalled. For a split second, she said, he seemed to loosen his grip on the weapon, his hand merely resting atop it, instead of holding it. Trumpet lunged forward, grabbed the firearm and tried to run. She said the man grabbed her by the back, and the gun fell. She shoved the weapon down the floor of the train, away from her assailant.

“You’re not going anywhere,” the 40-year-old Trumpet said her attacker screamed, as he held her down.

At least two other men jumped on the gunman, and Trumpet broke free. She picked up the gun, leaped off the train and threw the firearm onto the tracks. Passengers tumbled out of the open doors of the train in a chaotic scramble to safety, running by the body of Cunningham, the Metro mechanic who authorities have dubbed a hero for his earlier intervention with the gunman.

Police said they arrested Trotman moments later, on the underground platform at the station east of the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Southeast Washington. He was being detained on Friday at a hospital for mental health observation, according to D.C. police. He is charged with first-degree murder while armed, kidnapping while armed and assault with a dangerous weapon.

It was not immediately clear how soon he could appear in court. D.C. police did not make further comments about the case on Friday.

Trotman’s mother told The Washington Post on Thursday that she became worried about her son in recent weeks and that she “saw a depression” in his changed demeanor. She said Trotman, an Auburn University graduate who worked in information technology, had been seeing a counselor.


His ex-girlfriend said he had been despondent over their breakup some years ago. Trotman was facing prison time in Pennsylvania after pleading guilty last month to a methamphetamine charge, according to a local prosecutor. Two weeks ago, a counselor called D.C. police to check on Trotman after he had missed at least one session.

Trumpet’s encounter with the gunman began as the train to L’Enfant Plaza pulled into the Potomac Avenue station about 9:20 a.m. She is an analyst for the D.C. Department of Health Care Finance, which helps low-income residents access medical care.

She said she looked out the window as the train came to a stop and saw a man — later identified as Cunningham — on the platform. She looked again and saw blood. Then, Trumpet said, she saw a man standing over him, “kicking him aggressively.”

“I looked, and I saw he had a gun in his hand,” Trumpet said.

Her one thought: “Don’t open the doors.”

The man who police identified as Trotman walked onto the rail car.

Sitting nearby was Tyrell Knight, 23, a security guard heading into work. He said the man approached a passenger who appeared to be homeless, and said, “I told you I was going to get you.”


Knight said he thought those two men were engaged in a dispute, and he got up and tried to maneuver around them. He said the man put his hand on his shoulder and said, “I told people not to move. Sit down.”

Mom describes Potomac Avenue Metro shooting suspect’s downward spiral

Knight said the doors to the train closed, then opened again, as the gunman walked up and down the aisle, “yelling aggressively and getting into people’s faces.” At one point, Knight said, the gunman held his weapon to the face of another man, who pleaded, “Please don’t.” At the same time, Knight said, he was yelling “how he’s the reincarnation of Harriet Tubman,” along with mentions of the CIA.

Knight said the gunman then sat down next to Trumpet and made the statement about how he had killed too many people. He said the man put on sunglasses and appeared to loosen his hold on the gun.

Knight called Trumpet “one brave woman” who “took no hesitation” in grabbing the gun and ending what he described as a nightmare. Had the train moved, he said, the gunman “could’ve killed more people while we were in the tunnel.”

Trumpet said she can’t recall precise details and in many ways can’t believe the tale she’s telling is hers. “I feel like I’m telling somebody else’s story,” she said.

Source: Washington Post

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