Police have not apprehended a suspect as of late Thursday and do not know the motive for the shooting, said Metropolitan Police commander Stuart Emerman.
He said it is not an active shooting situation.
"Detectives are interviewing witnesses and looking for camera footage," Emerman said.
Of the five wounded victims of the shooting, two were considered critcal and other injuries ranged from serious to minor, but all were expected to survive their injuries, he said.
All of the victims are adults, Emerman said.
The gunfire erupted in the Columbia Heights neighborhood, about two miles (three km) from the White House on Thursday night about 10 p.m., and happened outdoors in a courtyard of an apartment building, police said.
ABC affiliate WJLA-TV posted images on Twitter of ambulances carrying victims from the scene and said there had been a "massive" police response at the intersection of 14th Street and Columbia Road.