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b Catholic U. Community Mourns Tavern Murder Victims -b

"I speak for the entire Catholic University community when I say that we were deeply saddened to learn of the tragic deaths Sunday of three employees at Colonel Brooks’ Tavern: Rodney Barnes, Joshua Greenberg and Neomi Payne," said Catholic University President Father David M. O’Connell in a message to the university. "That these senseless crimes occurred on the Lord’s Day — a day of worship and rest, a day of peace — makes them even more horrible." The Catholic University and Brookland communities were shocked and saddened Sunday to learn of the triple murder at the neighborhood restaurant. The three employees; Barnes, 47, from Northwest Washington; Greenberg, 34, from Glen Echo, Md.; and Payne, 48, from Hyattsville, Md.; were shot and found in the kitchen freezer. Between $2,000 and 3,000 was stolen before the tavern opened for Sunday brunch. Another employee was in the second-story office when he saw two men with ski masks walk into the restaurant. The employee escaped onto a sub-roof and heard gun shots before calling 911. Father O’Connell invited the community of Brookland to join the students and staff of Catholic University on Wednesday for a memorial service in Caldwell Auditorium. The auditorium was reduced to standing room only as more than 300 people gathered to remember the lives lost on Sunday. Colonel Brooks’ Tavern and Island Jim’s Crab Shack and Tiki Bar next door are popular among Catholic U.’s students, faculty and staff. Before the Mass, Washington Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who frequented the tavern with his colleagues, delivered his condolences to Jim Stiegman, owner of Colonel Brooks’ Tavern, the families of those who died and the community as a whole. Along with the Catholic U. community, Williams turned to the Bible for comfort. He read: "God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress. Therefore we fear not, though the earth be shaken and the mountains plunge into the depths of the sea; though its waters rage and foam and the mountains quake at its surging. The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob" (Ps 46). Williams assured those gathered that the city was doing everything it could to solve the crime. In his homily, Father O’Connell addressed those gathered as, "one big family, one neighborhood, one community." He added, "Even in our grief and beyond our grief, we pledge to one another that we will stand together." D.C. Council Member Vincent Orange (D-Ward 5) was also present to express his regrets. "This is our community, we have to restore the value of life," he said. He vowed to help Colonel Brooks’ "remain a part of our daily lives" and to restore "the sense of peace in the Brookland community." "Those were three good people, there’s no doubt there," John Barry told NBC News following the memorial Mass. Barry is a Catholic U. alumnus and an employee at Colonel Brooks’. Franciscan Father Santo Cricchio, associate chaplain for religious education and retreats with Catholic U.’s campus ministry, said that although the campus ministry was very busy in the last few weeks with Lenten preparations, it was made obvious by the students he has met with during the week, and with the large number present at the memorial Mass, that students were deeply affected by the murders. "The tragedy at Colonel Brooks’ serves as a stark reminder that crime is no stranger to urban neighborhoods, regardless of zip code or socioeconomic status, regardless of whether one lives or works in Georgetown or Anacostia," Father O’Connell said in his message to the university. Colonel Brook’s Tavern is named after Colonel Jehiel Brooks, who settled in Brookland in the 1800s. Aside from the occasional petty robbery and vandalism, the diverse, middle-class neighborhood has seen little crime. Students at Catholic U. have always been warned to be cautious in certain areas surrounding campus, but Colonel Brooks’ was not one of these areas. Students are continually told to travel in numbers and be careful near the Taylor Street Bridge and the Metro access road near Pizza Hut, but Colonel Brooks’ Tavern, located only a little over two blocks from the dorms on South Campus, was not considered to be a dangerous place. Father O’Connell assured the students and campus community that he is working with campus public safety offices and the Metro Police Department. "Our campus is safe and I pledge to ensure that the CUA administration will work to keep it so," said Father O’Connell.

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