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Dr. Samori Swygert: D.C. Murder Is Proof of a Desperate Need For Fathers

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Samori Swygert discusses a crime in DC where a son accidentally shot his convicted felon father during a robbery.


D.C. murder case pleads the case for fathers

by Dr. Samori Swygert

We’ve heard about how actor Terry Crews was criticized on public TV for saying that boys need fathers in their lives. Well consider this story!  This may be lengthy but trust me, it’s worth your while, I’ll never write about nonsense to waste your time.

What you are about to read is a true story.  This is centered in the streets of Washington, D.C., however, it reads like the climax to the plot of an inner city crime novel or a big screen MiraMax film.  Unfortunately, this is real life like an episode of  “The First 48.”

I highlight this story as a cautionary case study for parents, family members, and our youth.  The role of a parent is crucial.  I also say that the presence of a contributory, productive, concerned, and dedicated father is critical.

This incident literally touches on poverty, drugs, incarceration, fatherless children, drugs, robbery, homicide, police corruption, police informants, and bad social environments.

The following individuals are either implicated, murdered, or sentenced.  The main youth Arvel Crawford was just sentenced to 75 years in jail.

  • Arvel Crawford- convicted and incarcerated, first documented murder at age 18
  • Arvel Alston- 40-year-old murdered by his son, Arvel Crawford
  • Johnquan Wright- 18-year-old victim of homicide secondary to retaliation
  • Nolan Cooper- Victim of homicide, 61-year-old innocent bystander
  • Tyrone Herring- 45-year-old, targeted drug dealer
  • Jarvis Clark- accomplice
  • Roshun “Too sharp” Parker- 27-year-old accomplice, and police informant
  • Reginald Jones- 40-year-old corrupt D.C. police officer
  • Lynn Wilkerson- cousin of police officer, and auto-shop owner

Let’s get started

On May 2014, a D.C. court judge sentenced 23-year-old Arvel Crawford to 75 years in prison for the murder of Johnquan Wright and Nolan Cooper.  Arvel Crawford was only 18-years-old at the time of those murders (2008).  However, at the time he was sentenced for 75 years, he was already serving 18 years in shooting and killing his father (Arvel Alston) in a botched robbery of a drug dealer (2009).

Arvel Crawford was born six months after his father was incarcerated in 1990 for the shooting death of a man during a robbery.  His father (Arvel Alston) was sentenced to 25 years, but the sentence was reduced to 17 years.  Arvel Crawford’s father was released in 2007, less than a year later he would be murdered by his own son (accidentally).  Arvel Crawford would only know his dad as a free man for a matter of months because from birth to 2007 his father was incarcerated.

In 2008, Arvel Crawford’s cousin was killed.  Crawford allegedly figured out who killed his cousin.  His cousin’s alleged killer was Johnquan Wright.  Late one night, Arvel Crawford crept up behind Johnquan with a .45 caliber handgun and fired multiple shots into his back.  One shot was an entry-exit wound, which went through Johnquan and hit 61-year-old Nolan Cooper.  Nolan Cooper was a 61-year-old homeless innocent bystander, Nolan fatally succumbed to his wounds.  Arvel was not caught for that double homicide.

In 2009, Arvel Alston ( the father), orchestrated a robbery of a local drug dealer.  Arvel Alston  enlisted the help of his own teenage son, a few of the above the above accomplices, and a D.C. police officer ( Reginal Jones) that was down on his luck financially.  The target of the robbery was a local drug dealer by the name of Tyrone Herring.

Arvel Alston ( the father), Arvel Crawford, Reginald Jones ( D.C. cop), Lynn Wilkerson, and the rest of the crew met at Lynn Wilkerson’s auto-shop to devise the plan to rob Tyrone Herring.

That night, the crew posted up in the parking lot of Tyrone’s girlfriend’s apartment, and awaited his exit.  They were going to apprehend him at gun point, and push their way into her apartment to rob her, then take his Infiniti to his house and rob him of all money, drugs, and whatever else was considered valuable. The robbery scene would be watched and protected by the D.C. police officer.  He would serve as lookout and scare away anyone that approached the scene of the robbery.  Some of the scheme went according to plan.

Tyrone exited his girl’s apartment.  He was approached by the group, a gun was drawn on him, and he was dragged to the door of his girl’s apartment.  They rang her buzzer but she never responded.  The scuffle continued as they tried to get him into his Infiniti.  Tyrone screamed out for help to the D.C. police cruiser, but no help was afforded him because the D.C. cop was in on the robbery.

Arvel Crawford drew his gun and fired.  He missed and shot his dad in the torso.  His dad got out the Infiniti, and eventually stumbled to the ground while asking his son, “What the f*ck are you doing?”  Arvel Crawford was screaming, ” Get up dad, Get up!”.

Rashun ” Too sharp” Parker snitched on all his partners to get a reduced sentence.  Rashun Parker had a long history with D.C. police on informing them of crimes and committing crimes, he had a give-and-take relationship with D.C.P.D.

Reginald Jones (the cop) was already upside down in his mortgage ($28,000 in delinquent mortgage payments), facing foreclosure, and had tens of thousands of dollars in consumer debt.  Reginald Jones plead guilty and was sentenced to 15 years in jail.

The other accomplices were charged with murder because they were accomplices in commission of a crime when somebody was killed.  Tyrone Herrings was found with $ 4,700 in cash and 31.4 grams of crack on the night in question. Reportedly, his misdeeds revealed his secret girlfriend to his wife, and he faces legal troubles stemming from the drug possession.

So May 2014, Arvel Crawford was sentenced to an additional 75 years for the double homicide.

This young man will never see the light of day as a free man.  He never really knew his father, and his father never really knew himself.  His father served 17 years in jail, basically his son’s whole life (at the time) just to get released and involve his son in criminal activity that ultimately led to his own son shooting and killing him by accident.  The Bible talks about how the sins of the father shall visit upon the children ( Exodus 20:5).  His father robbed and killed a man in 1990, and the karma came back twice as hard.

This father had a chance to tell his son not to emulate him and to teach him to be everything he’s not and to seek higher ground.  His father could’ve intervened, or been an obstacle to his son’s road to destruction.  So much can be said about this story, but I tried to be brief for readers’ sake.  However, this must be said:  We must also actively assume a father figure in lives of our young black men.  We never know who they are looking to for guidance and direction.  We don’t have to be related by blood and DNA to claim the kids of our village.

Check out the original Washington Post articles here and here for full details.


  1. Corbin

    July 2, 2014 at 6:32 am

    Whatever, Terry Crews. Girls need fathers also. I believe if more girls had their dads in their lives, there would be less illegitimate children born, more college grads, and the original family structure would be more prominent. Not only boys Terri. Think about our girls as well.

  2. jaime love

    July 2, 2014 at 6:56 am

    I agree 100% Corbin

  3. Shonia

    July 2, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Children needs their fathers period..

  4. Read and think !

    July 2, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Fathers need their children!

    • donna

      July 2, 2014 at 11:46 am

      Yahoo!!!! Spot On!

  5. rosemary davis

    July 2, 2014 at 11:58 am

    I agree it’s a good thing when fathers are presence in their children’s lives to give them wise counsel and guidance,however I don’t feel that if they are not there that a child will simply turn out to be nothing,There are a lot of single mothers thru no fault of their own are raising and have raised their children to be responsible adults,I am one of those parents my children lost their father at a very young age and thru the years I was always there to guide them along the way both mentally, spiritually, and emotionally despite the fact that I held down a full time job.They didn’t drink,nor joined gangs,no drug use nrither did they rob,steal or kill it’s about training them from infancy wheather the father is there or not because by the age of three they are already molded and have their own personality and that’s the time to get that firm loving hold because by age ten if you have not done that chances are it’s to late and there in lies the problem that will only get larger as the child get older.I always tell people I had very few sleepless nights because I knew that as a mother I was doing my job today they are grown up and have their own families and their children are growing up to be responsible young people so it can be done we if we have the correct mind set along wih love,patience and discipline.

  6. Imhotep

    July 2, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    So Rosemary, why are the jails and prisons being filled with young brothers, i know i have done couseling and work in prisons and community corrections. I have also sat in on group at child service facilities and the stories you hear are terrible! So yes, some mothers(single means one, so the single parent title is a misnomer, your responsible to more than one, man or woman with child) do a good job, but check the hoods all over( and iv been to many) its a lack of good father/male wisdom being taught! 4100 blacks were killed in 2012(source-FBI) and many more wounded. Who , on a whole are doing the shooting of my beloved black people? Why? How? This country is cruel to us, but we have psycological issues according to Dr. Amos Wilson, thus leading to crimogenesis towards each other… Hotep

    • rosemary davis

      July 2, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      The jails are filled with young black men for the reasons that I stated,first and foremost a lack of discipline and traing from an early age onward.There are many fathers, who have been in the home and have trained their children well, and they still fell thru the cracks and end up in the prison system remember, a child has a mind too and if it’s trained in the proper way he will do well in life and if he’s not he will end up on a destructive path as so many of our young black men have done we are all free moral agents so our children have a choice to live a productive or non productive life depending on wheather we as the parents have given them the right tools they need in life to be successfull.

  7. ericaf

    July 2, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Back in the day, even when your father didn’t live in the same house with you, he still had authority over you. There could never be said that he wasn’t an integral part of your lufe. But today’s parents don’t seem to know about that, not because you may not be together as a family doesn’t me you shouldn’t be a forceful presence in the lives of your kids.

  8. blog

    April 10, 2020 at 9:55 pm

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