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Silence an issue with Alexandria homicide investigation | News

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Silence an issue with Alexandria homicide investigation
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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA9) -- Alexandria police are investigating their first murder of the year after Shakaan Elliott-Tibbs was gunned down last Thursday.

The shooting happened in a busy area on North Fayette Street, near plenty of bus stops and the Braddock Road Metro. Police say there were certainly witnesses, but so far no one is talking. Silent witnesses are a problem many police departments face.

Crime Museum Expert,Wyndell Watkins, has seen that silence firsthand. Watkins is a retired deputy chief who worked with the Metropolitan Police Department for more than 20 years and was the commander of the homicide squad.

"The first case I had in homicide squad, we had a lady who was killed out on New York Ave," Watkins said.

The squad spent hours working on the case, but after a few days all the leads had dried up. In a last effort, Watkins sent his officers back to the scene to set up a roadblock. They stopped hundreds of cars and handed out fliers.

"The 500th flier, a person we stopped saw the crime," Watkins said. "We solved the crime, but the question was well why didn't you come forward? He said 'I intended to, but I just forgot about it.'"

Watkins says people don't come forward for a lot of reasons: they're afraid, it breaks the neighborhood code that says you don't snitch, or they just don't want to be involved.

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He says law enforcement has to reverse the culture, and he believes it can be done, if they truly interact with the community and build a deeper trust.

"The challenge here is to get out, work with the community and get them to realize that the best way to protect themselves and the streets is they have to speak up," Watkins said.

For the family of Elliott-Tibbs, nothing explains the silence. His aunt, standing beside his mother, pleaded for someone to come forward.

"I want whoever out there to please listen to me, please come forward," Bernadette Tibbs.

Police have dealt with reports of shots fired in the neighborhood near the Braddock Road Metro station for months now. They say in each incident they run into a wall, and no one wants to talk, not even the victims. A lot of people who do live in this neighborhood did attend a community meeting a couple days ago, many of them are getting fed up.

Also in attendance at that meeting? Elliott-Tibbs' mother, pleading with the community to speak up.

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