18-Year-Old LSU Student Becomes DC's First Homicide of 2024, Suspect Arrested

Ashlei Hinds was home on Christmas break when she was killed while attending a New Year’s party, her family stated.

An 18-year-old college student was shot and killed at a New Year’s party in Washington D.C., reports the Washington Post, making her the first homicide victim of the year for the city, and continuing a disturbing trend there.

Ashlei Hinds, a freshman from Louisiana State University attended the party with her best friend at an Embassy Suites hotel.  Almost an hour and a half past midnight, a gunman fired his weapon during an altercation involving another partygoer after crashing the party according to Hinds’s family.

“She was the sweetest thing this side of heaven,” said her grandfather, the Rev. Kenneth Thomas Sr., pastor of Johnson Memorial Baptist Church in Southeast Washington. 

Hinds was pronounced dead in a seventh-floor room after succumbing to her wounds.

After 274 victims who died of gun violence in 2023 which was the highest number of fatalities in more than 25 years, Hinds, a native of Prince George’s is the first victim in D.C. in 2023.

On Tuesday (Jan. 2)  Jelani Cousin 18 was arrested and charged with second-degree murder according to law enforcement. He could make a court appearance on Wednesday (Jan. 3).

Hinds had big aspirations and ambitions before her life was tragically cut short. She loved photography and graduated from Henry A. Wise Jr. High School in Upper Marlboro, Md., where she was voted president of the student body.

Eventually, she took an interest in sports and chose to attend LSU in Baton Rouge which was the first school she visited,

“She was smart,” said her mother, Tiffany Falden. “She was friendly, articulate, educated. She just had a beautiful spirit.”

“She had big dreams and big plans,”  Thomas added. “And we had big dreams and big plans for her. And now she’s gone. And for what? Because somebody was being stupid. And this city tells these kids they can be stupid, and that nobody is going to be held accountable. It’s shameful.”

Black Girls and Women Killed At Rate of 4 Per Day In 2020 As Homicides Increased

Thomas was referring to intense debates between Mayor Muriel E. Bowser and Police Chief Pamela A. Smith, along with some D.C. city council members, over-policing, prosecutions,  and various other issues with the city’s criminal justice system, WTOP News reported.

“I even told a police officer, the problem here in D.C. is you guys don’t have any way to hold these kids accountable,” Thomas argued. “Your laws say they can do whatever they want. They have no fear.”

In a statement on X, (formerly Twitter) released on Monday (Jan. 1),  D.C. Council member Matthew Frumin, who represents the area where the hotel is located, said that a public-safety community meeting is scheduled for Jan. 17.

“We face an epidemic of gun violence in our city that impacts every resident regardless of age, income, or Ward, and we must work together across government to empower public safety agencies to stem the tide of violence,” Frumin’s post read.

Thomas said he would explain to Smith (Also an ordained Baptist minister) the urgency of the young people losing their lives to gun violence and “that she has the authority to do more, and she needs to do more.” He also noted that addressing the ongoing crisis does not need “politically correct” speech.

“People are dying,” he said.

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