Mass Shooting Suspect Vacillates on Plea Offer, Then Detained

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A non-fatal mass shooting defendant, who planned to accept a prosecution plea offer, rejected it during a preliminary hearing before DC Superior Court Judge Robert Okun

Rennwel Mantock, 29, is charged with six counts of assault with intent to kill while armed and six counts of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence for his alleged involvement in a mass shooting that injured six individuals. The incident occurred on April 26 on the 1200 block of Connecticut Avenue, NW, outside of Decades nightclub. 

On May 14, parties told Judge Okun they had reached an agreement, which required Mantock to plead guilty to one count of assault with intent to kill while armed, aggravated assault while armed, and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, in exchange for a dismissal of all other charges and the prosecution not seeking an indictment. 

Mantock had signed all waivers and the agreement, and Judge Okun asked Mantock if he understood the plea. 

Throughout the inquiry, Mantock hesitated to answer, before interrupting and stating “I’m confused. It wasn’t my intention to kill anybody,” while questioning why the assault charge included the intent to kill. 

“You shouldn’t plead guilty if you don’t think you’re guilty of these charges,” Judge Okun told him, offering to give him a chance to further discuss the plea and his decision with his attorney, William Patzig. 

Then Mantock told the court, “I’d like to apologize to the victim, her family, and anyone this may affect… I apologize deeply.” 

One of the victims, who was celebrating her bachelorette party and sustained a gunshot wound to her calf, was present. 

Following a break, Mantock’s family members repeatedly stated, “Don’t plead guilty, please.” Moments later, as the prosecution finished reading the proffer of facts, Mantock told the court “I want to apologize to the victims once again. I don’t think I’m going to plead guilty.” 

Due to his rejection of the plea deal, prosecutors called the lead detective on the case from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) who testified that Mantock had been arrested minutes after the shooting, “about half a block away” from Decades. 

Prosecutors presented body-worn camera footage from a responding officer that showed Mantock being taken into custody. As he was arrested, a security guard from Decades came running, telling MPD, “That’s him right there,” and adding, “We’ve got somebody shot.”

According to the detective, Mantock was arrested on the 1700 block of N Street, NW, and a security guard from Decades, who had followed Mantock from the club, sustained an injury to the leg and was receiving aid from his boss at the other end of the block. 

“Go back to Decades, there’s more people there that are shot,” the manager can be heard telling MPD. 

The detective also testified that, as the officers ran to Decades, a bystander pointed out that the suspect had disposed of his firearm under one of the cars on the 1700 block of N Street, NW. 

The bystander, who told police he watched the shooting happen, told them “[Mantock] was irate and started shooting into Decades,” after he was forcibly removed by security. 

Prosecutors also provided surveillance footage from the entrance of the club, which depicted two security guards dragging an individual identified as Mantock out of the club, before putting him on the street. 

As the security guards walk away, the individual identified as Mantock can be seen removing a gun from his waistband and opening fire at the crowd of people by the front door. In visible fear, the victims can be seen ducking for safety. 

Footage also depicts the individual identified as Mantock running back into the club as he continued to open fire, before walking away from the scene. 

Prosecutors also presented the court with video of an interview of Mantock conducted by the detective and his partner. 

In the footage, Mantock can be heard telling the detectives, “I was just there having a few drinks… I didn’t do nothing wrong,” before claiming that, as he was dragged out of the club, the security guards punched his face multiple times. 

However, the detective stated there were no visible signs of injury. According to the detective, security told MPD Mantock had been removed from the club due to “erratic behavior.”

“Defensive reflexes…” Mantock told detectives, “As soon as I’m free, I defend myself.” 

“I just reacted, I never know what’s going to happen next,” he claimed. 

“Everything was happening so fast, I’m in this adrenaline rush,” he said, adding “I shot at these guys… two or three times, and then I just go away.”

“I was trying to defend myself,” Mantock can be heard telling detectives. “When I got free, that was my first thought,” he said. 

When detectives asked if he had intended to strike the bouncer that dragged him out of the club, Mantock replied “If I say no, I’m lying.”

Following the witness’ testimony, the prosecutor argued that they had “provided more than enough evidence to prove probable cause” that he was attempting to kill the victims, adding that he injured or attempted to injure a specific person by using force. 

According to the prosecution, the defendant “appears to be smiling as he’s carried out [by security], almost nonchalantly.” 

“He continued to fire the gun, shooting at least ten rounds into the club,” the prosecution insisted. 

However, Patzig claimed “[Mantock] was afraid for his own safety,” insisting that his running away from the scene proved his fear, and only shot in an attempt to defend himself. 

Despite Patzig’s self-defense argument, Judge Okun found probable cause for all charges, explaining that Mantock’s use of violent force, voluntarily and not by accident, meets the requirement for probable cause. 

Judge Okun also said that Patzig’s self-defense argument is “exceedingly weak,” insisting there was no proof that Mantock was in imminent danger, as the security guards had placed him on the ground and walked away from him. 

“It is a miracle this case is not a multi-homicide case,” insisted the prosecution, as they requested Judge Okun to order Mantock detained. 

Patzig argued Mantock has two young children, with a third on its way, and has no criminal history that shows he would be a danger to the community or a flight risk. 

However, Judge Okun ruled that because of the nature and circumstances of the incident, he continues to pose a danger to the community. 

Parties are slated to reconvene Aug. 5. 

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