Plea deal for man who triggered panic at D.C. Pride parade

By : Lou Chibbaro Jr. OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Aftabjit ‘DJ’ Singh and Melissa Duffy were at the center of a melee in Dupont Circle during June’s Pride parade. (Washington Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro Jr.)

A man charged with wielding a BB gun in Dupont Circle during the Capital Pride Parade on June 8 that triggered a panic, prompting organizers to abruptly end the parade agreed July 29 to a plea bargain offer by prosecutors that could result in his case being dismissed.

Aftabjit “DJ” Singh, 38, agreed to an offer by prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of Possession of a Destructive Device and Attempted Threats to Do Bodily Harm.

In exchange for doing so, prosecutors allowed him to enroll in a six-month court approved diversion program in which his sentencing is postponed to enable him to perform community service work after which he will be eligible to withdraw his guilty plea.

If prosecutors determine he successfully completes the diversion program they will drop the two charges and dismiss the case, according to a statement entered into the court record on July 29.

D.C. Superior Court Judge John Ramsey Johnson, who is presiding over the case, scheduled a “Deferred Sentencing Review” hearing for Jan. 31, 2020. That’s when prosecutors are expected to inform Johnson whether Singh has met the conditions of the diversion program and whether the case should be dismissed.

A Superior Court judge released Singh on his own recognizance pending trial on June 10.

His release came two days after his arrest by D.C. police for pulling out a BB gun that authorities say closely resembles a real gun inside Dupont Circle around 7 p.m. on June 8 as more than 1,000 people standing in and near the circle were watching or marching in D.C.’s annual Capital Pride parade.

Police and witnesses said the sight of a man brandishing a gun created a panic that prompted the crowd to run in every direction away from Dupont Circle, causing some to fall and suffer non-life threatening injuries that required hospitalization.

Singh told the Washington Blade after his June 10 court arraignment that he pulled out an unloaded BB gun to protect the woman he calls his wife after an unidentified man assaulted her as she stood next to the Dupont Circle fountain.

He said the unidentified man and another man who he believes were opposed to the Pride parade sprayed him and Melissa Duffy, 43, with mace after he attempted to stop the first man from punching Duffy.

Sing and Duffy told the Blade they came to Dupont Circle to watch the parade as they have in past years.

“We were there because we enjoy it,” Duffy said. “We know a lot of gay people.”

Singh and a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office couldn’t immediately be reached to obtain details of the community service work that Singh will be required to perform.

He and Duffy said they were sorry about the mass panic that ensued after bystanders saw Singh brandishing his BB gun.

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