Washington, D.C., public transit worker fatally shot trying to protect passenger from shooter

The D.C. Metro said it would lower its flags to half-staff while mourning the loss of the "heroic employee."
DC police officers, Potomac Avenue Metro, Feb. 1, 2023

A Washington, D.C., public transit employee was fatally shot Wednesday attempting to protect a passenger confronted by a gunman who had already shot two others.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority employee has been identified as Robert Cunningham, a 64-year-old mechanic. 

The shootings occurs at about 9 a.m. at Metro station in the District of Columbia's southeast quadrant. 

Officials said the suspect, Isaiah Trotman, 31, got off a bus with another passenger at the Potomac Avenue Metro Station when he shot the other traveler in the leg. After entering the station, Trotman allegedly shot another man in the leg. 

Trotman then confronted the woman on the station's rail platform.

Cunningham and at least one other Metro employee attempted to intervene to protect the woman, said Ashan Benedict, a chief for the District's police department. Benedict said Cunningham was "immediately shot" and pronounced dead on the scene.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family and the heroic actions that took place here today," he said.

The other metro employee engaged the suspect to try and de-escalate the situation after Cunningham was shot.

"I believe he successfully does so because no one is shot after this," also said Benedict, of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department.

The shooter then got on the train and the passengers were able to disarm him, the department also said.

A third person was injured in the hand during the incident.

Trotman is in custody and charged with first-degree murder while armed, kidnapping while armed and assault with a dangerous weapon, police said.