Washington Hebrew Congregation teacher Matthew Shlonsky

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Matthew Shlonsky pictured, left, with U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). Photo courtesy of U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s office
Matthew Shlonsky pictured, left, with U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio).
Photo courtesy of U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s office

Matthew Castro Shlonsky, 23, a graduate of American University and an assistant teacher at Washington Hebrew Congregation, was killed by a stray bullet in Washington on Aug. 15. The Cleveland native had just exited a cab near the Shaw-Howard University Metro station around 5 p.m. when he was shot. He was taken to a hospital where he died from the wounds.

Marcus King, 19, admitted to police that he accidently shot Shlonsky, according to a charging document.


Shlonsky interned in Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s office until May 2013 and was working as a business analyst at the time of his death. He had served as a Hebrew tutor and homework aide at Washington Hebrew Congregation.

Stephanie Tankel, director of religious school education at Washington Hebrew, worked with Shlonsky in the religious school and remembered him as a “warm kid with a spectacular attitude” who was “adored by all of the students” in the school.

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“They looked at him like some sort of celebrity or superhero — but that never went to his head. His ego was never on the forefront when he worked with kids,” she recalled. “Much of the work he did was with kids who needed additional assistance reading Hebrew. He was quick to develop friendships with the other teachers and staff members. He was thoughtful, remembering birthdays and noticing haircuts.”

She said that after working with Shlonsky for a year she recommended him to her husband Stephen Tankel, an assistant professor in the School of International Service at American University. Shlonsky worked on several research projects there.


The professor said he was impressed with Shlonsky as a person, describing him as “smart, motivated and easy to work with,” attributes that led to his recruitment on a research project tracking terrorist activity in Pakistan.

“The product he delivered was incredibly well organized, and Matt showed a diligence rarely found in undergrad or grad students,” he remembered.

“Matt had very well informed views for a person his age and was not shy about expressing them, but he was also open to new ideas and always interested in other people’s points of view,” he said.

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