Washington police defend not arresting man who fatally shot teen

By Jonathan Allen

(Reuters) - The chief of Washington's police defended his department on Tuesday against criticism that a man who fatally shot a 13-year-old boy he suspected of breaking into a car over the weekend had not been arrested or charged.

The man, whose name has not been made public, shot Karon Blake in the early hours of Saturday morning in Northeast D.C., according to police. The incident has raised concerns among community members and local politicians about vigilantism.

The man phoned the 911 emergency line after shooting Blake and was performing CPR on the boy when police arrived, Chief Robert Contee III of the Metropolitan Police Department told reporters at a news briefing.

He declined to say much more about the man while the investigation continued. When asked by a reporter why the police chief appeared to be so "fired up" as he spoke about the case, Contee decried what he called "misinformation swirling out there, and people are tying this into race and other things and putting images of innocent people out there."

He said the man, like Blake, was Black, and that he had a permit to carry a concealed gun and that the gun was registered to his home. No other weapons were found at the scene, he said.

The man gave his account of what happened to police when they arrived at the scene, and since then had hired a lawyer.

"It's not about getting it fast, it's about getting it done right, making sure that if there's a person to be arrested that we do it the right way," Contee said. He said it was legal for someone with a gun license to shoot someone in Washington in certain cases where the person is in fear of their or another's life, and that a grand jury would decide if a crime had been committed.

Federal prosecutors from the city's U.S. attorney's office were working with police to investigate the shooting."

Contee said it was not unusual in the U.S. capital for police not to release the name of a crime suspect before an arrest warrant has been secured, and to not arrest someone immediately.

Blake was shot near his middle school, which described him as a quiet and inquisitive student who loved fashion and football.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)