A 27-year-old African American reporter who committed herself to covering the blackest, most neglected portion of the District of Columbia was shot to death Wednesday night when, police said, she was used as a human shield in an exchange of gunfire by two groups of dirt bike riders.
Charnice Milton, who lived east of the Anacostia River, the area she covered, was a contributor to Capital Community News and a graduate of Ball State and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She was shot as she walked on one of the area’s major streets to transfer buses. Milton had covered the monthly meeting of a community advisory committee.
” ‘At 9:28, she texted me and said, “I’m on my way home,” ‘ the victim’s mother, Francine Milton, said,” Derrick Ward and Andrea Swalec reported Friday for Washington’s WRC-TV, the NBC-owned and -operated station. ‘So, I was waiting for her to text me back and let me know if she needed me to pick her up, if she needed us, where she was. And we never got that text last night.’ . . .” Their daughter was rushed to a hospital, where she died.
Perry Stein added for the Washington Post, “Milton largely wrote about news in Wards 7 and 8 and those she encountered while reporting said she was determined to show that these neighborhoods are more than just the city’s poorer wards, but rather communities filled with hardworking individuals who want to make the city better.”
“Her editor, Andrew Lightman, the managing editor of Capital Community News, noted that Milton was one of the few people in the city doing that grassroots level reporting in the east of the river communities. Her loss, he said, will be felt in those stories that will no longer get covered.
” ‘Not only did they gun down a young woman, they also silenced one of our reporters,’ Lightman said. ‘I think it’s a real loss not only for us and her family but also the communities that she covered . . . She was one of a handful of reporters across the District who was looking at the nuts and bolts of everyday life.’ . . . ”
Milton’s parents “say she overcame speech problems early in life to get a full communications scholarship to Ball State University after graduating from Bishop McNamara High. She eventually received a masters degree from Syracuse,” according to a story by Jennifer Donelan of the Associated Press and Tom Roussey of WJLA-TV, the ABC affiliate.
“She loved to cover the area east of the Anacostia where she grew up.
” ‘She could have worked at any news media organization she wanted to,’ said her father Ken McClenton. ‘She had the credentials, she had the expertise, she had the knowledge, but she sacrificed and she stayed and wrote in Ward 8.’
” ‘Everyone says the same thing, that she was just a beautiful young lady,’ said Francine Milton, the victim’s mother. ‘And she loved to write, and she loved people. And most of all she loved God.’ . . .”
Mayor Muriel Bowser called for the public’s help while out on her community walk Thursday, WTTG-TV, the Fox affiliate, reported.
” ‘We want to know,’ said Bowser. ‘We know that people were in and around the area. We have gotten very little information and we need the public to provide that information so Charnice’s killer can be captured.’ . . .”