St. Augustine’s University student Ayana McAllister was probably doing something that young people do all the time when she was killed by gunfire Monday night during the filming of a rap music video in Washington, D.C., the district’s police chief said Wednesday.
McAllister, 19, a freshman criminal justice major, and her college classmate Aqueelah Brown, 19, of Raleigh, were both shot at about 8:39 p.m. in the 4300 block of Benning Road. Paramedics transported McAllister to a hospital where she died the next day, the Metropolitan Police Department reported.
Brown, also a criminal justice major at St. Augustine’s, was treated for a minor graze wound and released, according to police spokeswoman Aquita Brown.
McAllister, a native of suburban Upper Marlboro, Md., was in Washington on spring break with Brown and her sister Ndaja McAllister, 19. The shootings happened in the parking lot of an apartment complex where a friend from St. Augustine’s was promoting a rap music video that was being filmed, Brown said.
“We were there to support him,” she said.
The shooting started soon after the video shoot ended.
“We were getting into a car, talking to each other, and out of nowhere we hear gunshots,” Brown said Wednesday afternoon.
The gunfire grazed Brown’s shoulder.
“But it was not bad,” she said about her injury. “Then I heard Ayana say, ‘I got shot.’ The bullet went through her throat. I saw blood on top of her chest.”
Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham echoed Brown’s account during a press conference Wednesday.
“Gunshots rang out. Ayana was struck,” Newsham said. “She was probably over there doing something young people do all the time. There was a music video being filmed, and we lost the life of a young woman because somebody thought it was OK to discharge a firearm in our community.”
Aqueelah Brown said she met the McAllister sisters at the beginning of the fall semester, when they were all assigned rooms on the same floor of the Weston Hall dormitory. Brown said she and Ayana became very close, “like sisters,” and described her as “goofy, fashionable and outspoken.”
“She was the person I would hang with everyday,” Brown said.
Brown, a native of Raeford, decided to spend spring break at her college classmate’s home in Maryland. Late Monday afternoon, the college friend promoting the music video stopped by the McAllister home and they all rode to Benning Road.
Brown said she didn’t see the shooter. “We were talking and all to each other, and it just came out of nowhere,” she said.
Newsham, the police chief, was troubled by fatal gunshots being fired in an area where multiple people had congregated. He deflected a question as to whether rap videos are the scenes of violence in the District of Columbia and nationally.
“Young people ought to be able to come into our community and enjoy themselves without being nervous that a gun is going to be pulled out and somebody is going to end up dead,” he said.
By Tuesday afternoon, university officials asked people on Twitter to pray for McAllister’s family. Her father, Anthony McAllister, also attended the university.