Donte Manning's Death Remains a Mystery

Special to Informer | 5/3/2012, 11:21 a.m.

Who Remembers Donte?

On March 24, 2012, more than 2,000 people gathered on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building in Northwest and spilled out into the street and into Freedom Plaza. They gathered calling for justice for Trayvon and demanding Zimmerman's arrest.

David Bowers, founder of No Murders DC, stirred up the crowd by challenging them to be as energetic in seeking justice for all slain D.C. residents as they had been for Trayvon.

"I hope that for folks who have been very focused on ensuring that justice was done - which is the right thing to do - I hope that they would have that same focus on everyone else who's been murdered," he said. "To ensure that justice is done, we need to be good citizens and alert the authorities."

A reporter canvassing the rally crowd initially found no one familiar with Donte Manning's story. Finally, one person recalled the murder.

"I remember the story very well," said Shawn Gilstrap, who once lived at 12th & Euclid Streets in Columbia Heights. "Far too many black boys and men get killed every day and there's no prosecution."

Gilstrap said he'd "be surprised" if there was a similar rally later that evening to memorialize Donte who was shot seven years to the day. "But I think you can't do enough rallying for Donte."

However, there was no rally to honor Donte that night.

Any and All Leads

"Everyone needs to look at Donte's picture and think about him and his family," said Kris Baumann, head of the D.C. Police Union. "Where are we as a society, when the killer of a nine-year-old boy can walk free because of apathy, fear, or misplaced loyalties? Somebody, somewhere knows what happened and who did this."

Solving Donte's case would send two powerful messages Baumann said.

"The first is to Donte's family; the police care about you and Donte and he is not forgotten. The second is to those [who] killed him and those [who] watched and said nothing. You will be found and you will be held accountable for your actions and your omissions."

D.C. Police Investigators Vow to Solve the Murder

"Donte's case is open and under active investigation," said Lt. Robert Alder, an 18-year veteran of MPD's Homicide Unit. "We have a detective assigned to the case from the Cold Case Unit following up on any and all leads."

According to MPD's website, more than 85 of 2005's 196 homicides remain unsolved. The cases are handled by a dedicated Cold Case Unit which includes nine detectives.

"We have many cold cases under investigation and they are all a priority," Alder said, "but Donte's case has attracted a lot of public attention and still does."

However, information has not been forthcoming, and the police need the public's help. Despite a reward of $125,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of Donte's killer - the highest reward in the city to date - an arrest warrant has never been issued and MPD doesn't have a description they can release, Alder said.

"I do believe it is the largest outstanding reward. All that money is not offered by the police department; some of it has been contributed by private [citizens] who'd like to see the case closed," Alder explained.

"We would encourage anyone who has any piece of information, no matter how small they think it may be, to call us, and not to assume we already [have the] information," he said. "We're not ruling anything out at this point."