Hotel Party Turns Tragic with Teen’s Takedown

WASHINGTON (AP) — A suspect has been arrested in connection with the shooting death of an 18-year-old woman at a hotel in Friendship Heights, marking Washington, D.C.’s first reported homicide of 2024.

Ashlei Hinds, of Clinton, Maryland, was pronounced dead at the scene after paramedics responded to reports of a shooting at the Embassy Suites Hotel on Military Road NW. The victim, a freshman at Louisiana State University, was attending a New Year’s Eve party when the shooting occurred.

Police arrested 18-year-old Jelani Cousin of Northeast D.C. and charged him with second-degree murder while armed. According to a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation, about 10 people were attending the party inside a hotel room when a shooter opened fire.

Family members of the victim described her as a loving, caring, and all-around good girl who had never been in trouble. They also mentioned that Hinds was not a street person and did not typically attend parties.

The arrest comes as the city of Washington, D.C. ended 2023 with 274 homicides, the highest in more than two decades. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is working to address this trend with new legislation that is yet to be passed.

The Embassy Suites Hotel, located less than a block from the Friendship Heights Metro station, is cooperating with the police in the investigation. Authorities are asking anyone with potentially relevant information to come forward.

Hinds’s tragic death has shaken her community and prompted a call to action from local officials to address the rise in homicides in the area. The investigation into the shooting is still ongoing, and anyone with information is urged to contact the police.