Southeast Slaying Suspect Arrested After Googling Crimes

by: Lenore T. Adkins Special to the AFRO
/ (Courtesy photo) /
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Derek B. Turner, arrested and charged last week for the murder of Andrew McPhatter in March in Southeast Washington D.C., was so obsessed with his alleged exploits he scoured the Internet for articles about the shooting for more than a week after the victim’s death, court records show.

Turner, 26, a Ward 8 resident, was arrested Sept. 6 and charged with first-degree murder while armed in the slaying of McPhatter, 28. Members of department’s fugitive unit arrested Turner on a warrant they secured after the March 1 shooting.

Andrew McPhatter killed in Southeast D.C. (Courtesy Photo)

Turner, known as “Fats” locally, is being held without bond, according to a document from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Turner’s next court date is Sept. 28.

The Washington Post reported that Turner’s public defender might introduce self-defense as a defense. He faces at least 30 years in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.

Mary Cuthbert, chairwoman of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission in Ward 8, which includes Congress Heights where the shooting took place, said she’s comforted that police arrested Turner, but lamented the conditions she says are responsible for the senseless violence.

“The parents have to wake up and you’ve got to get a hold of your child when they’re little – they have to take charge,” Cuthbert told the AFRO. “We have to support them and help them move forward, but it has to start in the home.”

McPhatter, a father of four, was shot March 1 at 10:49 a.m. while sitting inside his green Buick Regal at Wheeler Road and Upsal Street, court documents said. McPhatter was armed with a .40 caliber gun in his waistband at the time of the shooting. The Post reported that McPhatter’s mother, Jessica Johnson, said her son was paranoid in the days before his murder, rarely left home, and had started carrying a gun for protection.

D.C. Fire and EMS personnel rushed McPhatter to a nearby hospital in Maryland in critical condition after the shooting. He was pronounced dead four days later.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Maryland determined McPhatter sustained five gunshot injuries, and ruled McPhatter’s death a homicide. Police say Turner allegedly shot eight bullets into the car and hit McPhatter in the head and body.

Court records show that on the same day McPhatter was shot, Turner searched the Washington Post website with the terms “three shootings in an hour on Wednesday in D.C.” That search took place at 8:47 p.m., less than 12 hours after McPhatter was shot.

On March 6 and 7, days after McPhatter succumbed to his injuries, Turner allegedly ran multiple searches on the Internet for a shooting on Wheeler Road Southeast and clicked on several related links, including the D.C. police department’s Facebook page and spotcrime.com. Searches continued through March 11.

Between Feb. 16 and March 1, McPhatter and his friends were targets of several shootings in and near the Trenton Park neighborhood, police said. On March 9, police recovered a loaded 10 mm Glock 29 from the glove compartment of Turner’s Lexus while investigating a drive-by shooting that targeted Turner and his car.

Turner was arrested March 10 and charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. He was charged with murder last week after police connected the gun to other shootings.

Police are investigating whether the other shootings in the neighborhood were linked as well. The McPhatter shooting remains under investigation.

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