Page last updated at 01:49 GMT, Saturday, 26 July 2008 02:49 UK

'Killing time' in Washington DC

"Killing time" is what locals call the midnight hour in Washington, DC's Trinidad Neighborhood.

Redrick's nephew was shot dead in Trinidad

In the early morning hours of 19 July, 13-year-old Alonzo Robinson was shot dead.

He had come to DC from Alabama to visit his grandmother who is undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer.

Alonzo's uncle, Tyrone Redrick, said his nephew was a straight-A student who loved basketball and boxing.

"He was an outgoing kid and he was very intelligent... He kept a smile on people's faces."

24 people have been killed in Trinidad so far this year, double the number in the same time period last year.

Police fight back

Wilhelmina Lawson
They're supposed to steady patrol this community... so where were they?
Wilhelmina Lawson

DC police put the neighbourhood on lockdown, surrounding the area with checkpoints and turning away residents without proper identification.

Some residents say it is too little too late.

Sitting on her stoop on Trinidad's main strip, Montello Avenue, neighbourhood advisory commissioner Wilhelmina Lawson wondered why the police were not around when it mattered.

"Someone in a uniform should have heard those shots.

"They're supposed to steady patrol this community. Twenty four-seven.

"So where were they? I wanna know that."

Driving across Trinidad it is hard to miss the numbers of people hanging out in the middle of a normal work day; at bus stops, near liquor stores, on street corners.

Unemployment among blacks in Washington is at 9.4%, while for whites its just 2.2%.

High summer temperatures have kept people, including teenagers, in the streets for much of the day and the night.

And America's struggling economy has made the situation explosive.

"You have a culture of people that are lacking in education and employable skills. And what do you think you're gonna get from that?" Lawson says.

Alonzo Robinson's murder remains unsolved.

No arrests have been made and no suspects have been named.

The FBI has joined the investigation into Trinidad's recent violence.

Alonzo's uncle Tyrone was happy that the DC police department offered to pay for his young nephew's funeral, but the family is still struggling to grasp what has happened.

"He didn't pass away for nothing but right now that's the way I feel." he says.

"He came up here and died for nothing."


Trinidad residents share their views

'Killing Time' originally aired on World News America, broadcast weeknights at 7pm ET on BBC America and BBC World News

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