Reader Shares Horrible Mugging Incident

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Dear PoPville,

I am writing you this email because I feel the need to share an incident that happened to my friends and I, last Friday. On April 27, 2012 my two girlfriends and I decided to go out and have drinks at Pearl Dive which is located at 14th and Q. I took the bus from Burleith where I live and headed to Dupont Circle to meet up with them and walk over together. It was 9:15PM when I met up with my friends. We decided to walk on Q street heading towards 14 street. After we passed 15th and Q, in the middle of the block (right where there is a bike store) we were attacked by two guys. They were nicely dressed and didn’t look like muggers. I was walking one step forward and when I heard the noise behind me, I turned. The first guy had grabbed both of my girlfriends, yelling “give it to me” referring to my friend’s cellphone. Initially, all three of us thought that he was most probably harassing us and not robbing us. The minute I turned and got engaged to the whole incident, a second guy showed up, who started dragging my friend to the ground in order to get her phone. In the meantime, I was fighting with the guy, who saw that I had a purse passed through my chest to the side. The fact, that I resisted really changed his whole behavior. He held me from my scarf and forced me to the ground where he continuously kicked me in order to get my purse. I kept yelling for help, which infuriated him and made him kick my head and face multiple times. To be honest, I wasn’t even physically able to give him my purse because of the level of violence he was forcing upon me. In the end of course, he took my whole purse and they both flew away through an alley.

I am sure that there are numerous events like ours every day in the streets of DC, however I felt that there were a few things that differ in our situation. I need to point out that we were three girls walking all together and I wasn’t by myself. We were walking in a “good” area of DC right between Dupont and Logan Circle, early at night; it was 9:25PM when it happened. We took Q street, which has a lot of restaurants and people were sitting outside that night. Finally, the violence these two men exerted on us was brutal. Unfortunately, even though the whole incident lasted almost a minute which is a long time for this kind of situations, no one came to our rescue. There were some people that saw us from their houses but did not intervene; and a taxi that was on Q saw my third friend in the middle of the street asking for help but he stopped 30 feet away waiting for the incident to end, and then continued its trip. I would never blame the woman that saw us through her window and called the police, why she didn’t come out. I understand the fear and hesitation. However, being in this position now, I feel that as citizens we need to intervene more. When this kind of events happen, open your door, yell police, somehow contribute so the muggers might run away. As for the taxi driver, he could have easily honked but he didn’t even stop to check how we were doing after the two guys had already left. Again, I want to be understanding but at the same time there is a reason these two, had the nerves to attack three women at 9:30PM in a very central area of DC.

The police told us that unfortunately there is an increase in crime lately and thieves target especially women with cellphones. This is exactly what attracted these two men initially. My friend was emailing at that point with her blackberry when the first guy attacked us and demanded her phone.

I live in DC for 4 years now and this has never happened to me before. I always felt very safe, especially in places like Dupont. I just wanted to share this story because I feel my fellow DC residents need to be more alert and prepared. I don’t want to say that I don’t feel safe anymore but definitely my perception of my surroundings has changed. I bought a panic button and the police informed us that a pepper spray is legal in DC as long as you report it to the police station. I don’t use my phone while walking and I am definitely not taking streets that have alleys or are kinda dark. These two guys were definitely waiting at that alley and chose to attack when no one else was at that block.

I hope that you might be able to share our story or talk about this kind of events. I think it is important that DC people are more aware of what is going on around us.

170 Comment

  • The taxi is the most egregious of all. Taxi drivers are the worst though, so why should I be surprised. Should have laid on the horn. That’s that I would’ve done.

  • It’s time for all of the public housing along 14th street to go.

    • Why do some people assume that every report of crime means that we should get rid of subsidized housing? You have no idea whatsoever if the perpetrators live in subsidized housing.

      It is completely bigoted to assume that it must have been the poor people who can’t afford housing in an expensive city that committed this crime.

      • right, because usually it’s people with a 6-figure job who mug people. listen, I’m as left-leaning as they come, but you’re not doing anybody any favors with this attitude.

        • I’m not arguing that these attackers were wealthy. But to say that an answer to all crime is to get rid of subsidized housing is insane and completely discriminatory against residents of that housing. The original commenter has no idea where these people live.

      • I will bet you $1000 in $20 bills that if caught, which they won’t be, that the muggers live in public housing.

        It’s time for all this PC Bullshit, all profiling is bad mentality to go.

        Profiling works.

        If I find puke and half eaten jumbo slice near 18th st, profiling dictates that it was probably a 20-something kid.

        If there is a fight in Georgetown outside Third Edition on a Thursday night profiling would dictate that one of the assailants was popping their collar.
        If a women is mugged east of 16th st. then profiling dictates that the assailant is probably a black man who lives in public housing.

        This isn’t raciest or discriminatory, it’s a good use of common sense and fact.

        • I wonder how many of you pro-profilers are white?

          • 99%

            And +1 to above anonymous on the public housing bullshit.

          • yeah you’re right! cos black cab drivers would never profile? thats y its so easy for a black man to get a cab in this city

          • And I love how bold people get when they are anonymous.

          • You aren’t exactly *not* anonymous.

          • I’m not the one spouting off about profiling by race. I’m being an advocate for the majority of young black males who don’t rob and steal. You are putting them all in one category and that’s racist. Also, I’m saddened that people want to take the poorest and least able to move and force them out of their homes. And I’ll proudly say that publicly unlike most of the people here.

        • Ok, let’s see the stats to prove it. Seriously. My guess is that you have no idea where the perps live or where anyone charged/convicted of a crime live. You just made the easy jump from poor=living in subsidized housing=criminal. Muggers (and other criminals) are mobile and don’t necessarily live in the area.

          • Yes, years ago in law school I represented misdemeanor defendants in DC. One of my clients commuted from Northeast to (allegedly) sell drugs at a housing complex off Georgia Ave.

          • Haha…people are racist and don’t even realize that they are being racist. White males commit more crime than black males but they just get away with it more often. Law abiding black males are start at a negative image wise in our society. They have to prove that they aren’t thugs, whereas a white males starts at neutral and have to prove that they are.

          • oh look. a link detailing nonviolent crime committed by white people. which has, ummm, maybe something to do with girls being beaten in the street near subsidized housing.

            or maybe not.

        • +1

          If you subscribe to the DC emergency alert system that includes crime alerts the first thing you realize is that every violent criminal in DC is a black man age 15-40.

          • Everyone who lives in DC knows that young, black men commit the majority of violent crimes. What seems to get lost too often is that the vast majority of young black men in this city do not commit violent crimes. That’s why profiling is both wrong and does not work.

          • gotryit

            +1 KenyonDweller. This is an important point that needs to be said more often.

          • +1 KenyonD

            Simple logic, along the same lines as:

            The majority of rapes are committed by men. The majority of men are not rapists.

          • This is an excellent point. I get these alerts through twitter and I would say that 99% (no exaggeration) of alerts say that the suspects are “BM” (black male). This is DC we’re talking about… people saying that white men commit the same number of crimes as black men may be correct if we’re talking about Oklahoma or Montana, but not DC.

          • +10000 so right and then people question why would women or men for that matter fear black males who are walking towards you on the street. And don’t tell me to move out of DC, instead let’s focus on getting these bastards into jail and for a long time…

        • “Profiling” would have done what to prevent this attack?

        • Profiling WORKS?!! Yeah, like it worked with Trayvon Martin?! Go choke on your own hate-filled spit, scumbag.

          • I dont think Trayvon Martin really applies here. No one really knows what happened in the Martin shooting.

          • As one of the people who called in the triple-shooting at the Projects at 3rd and Q NW over easter, I’d like to remind everyone that there’s a difference between projecting stereotypes onto theoretical examples and being honest about tangible things around us.

            Is it wrong to say projects (in general or as a concept) are dangerous? Arguably.

            Is it wrong to say specific projects are sources of specific crimes? No…. you can check. That’s not being racist, that paying attention to your community, reading the police reports, etc.

            I lived at 3rd and Q for two years and got to personally witness endless drug dealings, be within crossfire range of numerous shootings, and generally get a good view of what’s happening in plain site at the projects. Saying that a crime that happened actually happened in a place where you know it actually happened does not make anyone classist or racist.

            This is a community blog and unlike much of youtube, people are often speaking from personal experience rather than projecting stereotypes.

      • What makes me assume most crime is linked to public housing … Well actually the police. After a recent Columbia Heights shooting I chatted with a police officer, and he told me that the vast majority of shootings and robberies are linked to the gangs of the public housing in CH.
        Now this might not be the case in this very case but it seems chances are high.
        Does this mean I am against public housing? No. But if the are problems then it would be more helpful to address them at the root and not ignore some rot causes because of PC. And i don’t think getting rid of public housing is a way to get to the root of this.

    • I grew up in public housing and have never mugged anyone.

      • I don’t think anyone is saying that every person that grows up in public housing is a criminal. It’s more so that highly concentrated areas of public housing allows some of those who may be more desperate than others to meet and influence each other.

        For what it’s worth, several studies have shown that income disparity in areas has a positive association with levels of crime.

        • that’s EXACTLY what they are saying

          • No it isn’t. Its saying that that block has some bad elements in it and, as discussed in other posts, poor management to protect those who live there and others.

          • gotryit

            J, how do you interpret “It’s time for all of the public housing along 14th street to go.”?

          • Exactly. By virtue of living in public housing, you are very poor. Poor means you don’t have much money which means there’s a higher propensity to commit a crime to get more money.

            So it’s not unreasonable to make an educated guess that a criminal lives in public housing.

            Race only comes into question if you start analyzing the racial makeup of public housing which tends to be filled with minorities.

            These are all facts, not opinions or assumptions.

          • It’s very unreasonable to assume that a perpetrator lives in public housing simply because of the ratio of non-subsidized to subsidized housing in the city/area. Sure, there are a lot of poor people in DC, but most do not live in subsidized housing. At least for federal housing assistance, the ratio is around 4 people qualify for assistance for every available unit.

        • The problem here is EDUCATION, and this will never change until the education in the US is funded by the federal government equally, so everybody have the same chances. On the other hand, profiling always works and its efficient. Profiling is a different name for statistics.

          • That’s not true. More money is spent per child in dc than in most places. What needs to change is how children are raised.

  • What, prey tell, does a mugger look like?

    • like somebody who doesn’t have a day job.

      • I should clarify, people who work night shifts don’t look like muggers either but you know what I mean.

    • I think she just meant they did not look threatening.

    • *Pray

      I can only speak from experience, but my mugger was wearing all dark clothing and one of those winter masks that covered his whole face. The moment I saw him, I knew his intention, since it wasn’t very cold out.

      The person who wrote in said they were “nicely dressed” and that’s why they didn’t look like muggers. I think it’s pretty common, even if it’s not a conscious act, to take a person’s attire (and demeanor) into consideration when approaching them on the street. Sometimes we make judgements based on out considerations and sometimes we are fooled.

    • I think it’s “pray tell” not “prey tell”

    • If you have to ask, then maybe you should stay inside.

  • The issue is 14th and R. I would bet they ran in that direction.

    I’m sorry no one helped you 🙁

    • There is only one alley on that block. It’s across the street from the Bike Rack…and heads north to Corcoran and R.

      This is pretty terrifying. There are typically people at the Bike Rack right up to and after closing (8pm). I live two blocks further east on Q and other than a fatal shooting in 2008 the street crime on Q itself has been largely limited to break-ins and smash and grabs from cars.

      I hope everyone is okay.

  • -1,000 and double plus bad for your comment

  • The city should offer free Krav Maga training for all residents.

    • At least training to anyone who doesn’t live in public housing on 14th street…. just sayin…

  • Godspeed to you and your friends. I think one important take-away is to not assume b/c you are in what many people might perceive as a “safe” neighborhood to still not let your guard down. My comment is not to debate whether or not this is or is not a “safe” area. I think it’s really helpful to remember not to let your guard down, no matter where you are, no matter what time of day, alas.

    • Actually the issue is to remember that even “good neighborhoods” have bad blocks and the area around 14th/15th and Q/R for Logan are those blocks. Was someone not shot at 15th & R on Saturday night? No matter where you are this is still a city and cellphones are a hot commodity. Personally, I always use P when travelling from Dupont to 14th after dark because it is always crowded.

      • No, the point that I’m making is that it is a good idea to always be alert, no matter where you are, no matter what time of day.

        • I think this is great advice. Unfortunately, I think another lesson from this situation – and please don’t take this as blame the victim – is that when mugged, it’s better to just hand over your phone/money. Your property is not worth extending the confrontation and increasing the potential for violence.

  • i’m sorry that happened to you. i was mugged in broad daylight last summer on capitol hill. i, too, was disheartened that no one heard my screams or came to my rescue, although lots of neighbors came out with cellphones and called police after the fact. my mugger was caught and we go to trial in 2 months. those guys will probably get caught, too. i hope you paid close attention to what they looked like so you can ID them later?

    • Even if they catch them, get ready for the DC police to completely bungle the prosecution and for them to go free. Happened in my armed robbery (gun) case even though there was a mountain of evidence that it was them. Of course, if they are under 18 they will be set free to rob again no matter what the outcome. Just a bit of reality about how the criminal justice system works (or does not work) in DC from someone who’s been through it.

  • This is horrifying and scary as hell. I hope you and your friends are physically and emotionally alright.

    You shouldn’t have to feel like you need to qualify your frustration that no one helped you–you have the right to be downright angry about it. I’m sure plenty of others will say that they wouldn’t have tried to help out either–“I don’t want to get shot” etc.–but I disagree. If people live in such fear that they are unwilling to even attempt to help someone being BRUTALLY BEATEN right in from of them, that is a huge, huge problem in our city.

    The OP provided some good suggestions for what onlookers could have done–yelling for the policy, honking horns, etc. I truly hope people keep those in mind.

    • So what happens when I intervene and get shot and killed, all over a $100 cell phone?! You never know what kind of heat these low-lifes are packing. I would do anything in my power to help a victim, but unfortunately bystanders have to be very careful when trying to intervene. I’m not gonna risk getting killed all because somebody decided they needed to check their email.

      • I was thinking of the person being violently beaten on ground, not the $100 cell phone. Anyway, not trying to debate. It’s just really scary that something like this could happen with so many people around, and its sad that the poster felt like she needed to explain why she wished people had done more.

      • That’s all very well in the abstract and in the movies, but in real life, is it really something you want to risk your life over?

        Especially if there are other options available, like calling 911?

    • claire


      When people in the neighborhood make a ruckus when this sort of thing happens, the criminals are more likely to run off and less likely to try it again. And there’s no need to endanger yourself to speak up during something like this. Call 911, yell out a window to let them know you’re watching, take a photo with your cell phone to help nab the guys, honk your horn, etc.

  • OP – I’m very sorry for you. This could have been anyone. When a crime like this happens to someone, we as citizens should treat it as if it happened to everyone. The police need to crack down on this type of behavior, and the perps need to do the time (you listening DA?). I’m hopeful that the new cell phone law will deminish the market for stolen phones.
    Thank you for sharing – and make a quick recovery.

  • I’m so sorry this happened to you and I hope you all can get proper medical and psychological care after something so horrible. Thanks for sharing your story and what you learned.

  • Scary and sad. I’m sorry, OP.

  • I’m so sorry this happened. It’s terrifying to think that we aren’t even safe in groups 🙁 It makes me afraid to even leave my apartment sometimes. I hope you and your friends recover very quickly and these terrible human beings are caught SOON.

  • Very sorry this happened to you and your friends. Hope you all get the care you need.

  • Hugs for a safe emotional and physical recovery.

    One bit of advice would be to make sure your locks are changed at home – they likely have your keys and your address (because of your ID). You want to make sure they cannot get in to your home with that information.

    I’d like to stay stop blaming certain blocks, as people are ultimately responsible for their behavior, not where they live, but we’re relocating to just east of logan circle and reading what has been going on is disheartening. I really wish DC would invest in good foot patrols and punish cops for sitting in their patrol cars while on their personal cell phones – they clearly have more important things to do than ensure public safety.

    • Great advice, I would NOT have thought of that after the initial shock of being mugged (and beyond the obvious subsequent actions of cancelling credit cards), but it’s a very real possibility that they could come back for more.

  • People say to intervene, but fresh in my mind is the Trusty’s bartender who did exactly that last weekend and for his efforts got stabbed six times.

    • This is just terrible. It’s also the only reported robbery on that block in nearly a year.

      Definitely not blaming the victims here, but I’d second the advice to walk on P instead of Q (there are no restaurants on Q and the street is actually pretty quiet at night) and I’d stay the heck off of my blackberry.

    • Trusty’s bartender stabbed?? Can you provide a link with more info please?

  • “My friend was emailing at that point with her blackberry when the first guy attacked us and demanded her phone.” Why in the hell would she be using her phone to email someone when you three were on your way out for some drinks walking down the street. People use some street smarts and Damn a email or a text message there is a time and place to do things of that nature. Be aware of your surroundings . Is she that dependant on electronic crutch for social activites. Keep your “phone in your pocketbook when walkin down the street.

    • unfortunately, sometimes being aware of your surroundings isn’t enough for people set on stealing and assaulting other people. when i was mugged i was fully aware of my surroundings, no phone, no email, no nothin. it was earlier in the evening too. sometimes you are physically overpowered, which it sounds like the OP was. i am personally more appauled that there are people out there that would kick in a girl’s head over a purse. cowards.

      i’m sorry to hear that this happened to you and your friends. it’s going to take time for you to feel like yourself and feel comfortable out in public/at night. take the time and rely on people close to you to talk through this. seek professional help if you think you need it.

    • get off it. the real issue here is that you should be free to have a cell phone out, or wear a diamond ring, or have an expensive watch on, etc. and walk down the god damn street without fear of getting the crap kicked out of you. the fact that we don’t have the freedom to act like reasonable beings walking down the street is horrible. if we acquiesce to these hopeless criminals, then soon enough we’ll all have to wear rags when we go out and not ever leave the house after dark. where does it end?

      I mean, I get it. I don’t pull my phone out much on the street, but one should be able to do so without getting kicked in the head and nearly killed. DO NOT BLAME THE VICTIM.

      • I totally agree. I try to be smart about safety, and almost all of the time, I am. But you know what? Sometimes I really do want to answer my phone, carry a purse, pull something out of my wallet, etc. while walking down the street. It is a normal thing that people really do need to–and should be able to–do once in a while. I think blaming the victim is ridiculous here.

      • advocating for people to be street smart is not blaming the victim.
        learn the difference.

        • “learn the difference.” oooh, burnnnn.

          seriously, dude. the original poster’s tone was horrible. this woman just got attacked and clearly they all understood it was because the one had her phone out. they don’t need your psa.

        • Damn, you’re street smart! Somebody’s been watching “The Wire”.

    • 1) Your comment was extremely insensitive.
      2) The whole point of cell phones is that you can use them when you are out. There’s something wrong with a neighborhood when a person walking on the sidewalk using a cell phone is attacked; there is nothing wrong with a person using a cell phone on a sidewalk.

    • This is ignorant and inflammatory and way too close to blaming the victim. You hear cops talk all the time about not having your cell phone out, but that advice really is about ten years too dated.

      EVERYBODY has a cell phone now, and in this city, a 20-something year old professional woman is likely to have a smart phone. These guys didn’t see the phone and suddenly decide to rob these women. Remember, they went for a purse, too. The law of averages says if you mug someone in this town they’ll have a blackberry of iPhone for you to steal. The fact she was emailing someone didn’t have anything to do with this.

  • People, for the love of all things holy, do NOT flash your cell phone around (I assume an iPhone was involved) on the street, especially at night.

    I hate sounding insensitive, but it’s common sense! Phones can fetch hundreds of dollars on the black market, so why would anyone in their right mind show it off. I’m a 6’2″ 220 pound guy and I put my phone away even before getting off the Metro to walk the 2 blocks to my house.

    • Off-topic: Why oh why, for all the brilliant minds behind Apple, why can they not figure out a way to configure a way to make an iPhone useless once stolen, so that there would be no appeal to thieves. If you’re in that world – technology – would it be that difficult to render? Maybe it’s not sexy enough, heh.

      • gotryit

        This is possible for all phones – it’s just the manufacturers need to do it.

        Thanks to Chief Lanier (and others with her), the manufacturers will start doing that in the US. Anyone know timing on that? It hit the news a few weeks ago.

      • It’s funny you mention that, because that sort of functionality is currently being legislated into place. Alerting the carrier that your cell phone has been stolen will prompt them to send a signal to it that will effectively “brick” the device, making it impossible to re-activate it.

        • Well see…ask and ye shall receive…how nice. Thanks to gotryit, Anonymous and DofT (apologies but too lazy to spell out your full moniker) for your info and answers. By the way, didn’t mean to put the full burden on Apple, as I think it is a shared responsibility. The phone carriers bear responsibility here, too.

      • Cell device registration is managed at the carrier level (Verizon, AT&T, etc.) and Apple doesn’t even see the phone until it’s registered and the user hits the Apple Store. Maybe that will change at some point.

      • It’s not Apple’s problem, it’s the carriers. They have finally agreed to keep a shared database of stolen phones and not provide service to them. Hopefully, this will reduce the number of phone robberies here, as it has in other countries that have enacted similar measures.

      • it would be better if it just started audio and video recording remotely without the thief knowing it so that people could be identified and charged.

      • even when this law kicks into effect., I wonder how many buyers of black market iphones are actually savvy enough to check and see if a phone can be activated (because it’s not stolen) before buying it. Also, I wonder if stolen iphones might retain enough value because they can just be used like an ipod even if they’re useless as a phone. Law should help but may not stop the danger of being mugged for a phone. What would help would be to track stolen phones via their serial numbers and trace where and to whom they are being registered to next. Even if the person registering it is an innocent craigslist buyer, they might be able to give the police a lead to the guy who sold it to them and stole it in the first place.

        • By the way, it’s not a law, but a self-regulatory effort with a little government pushing.

      • Actually you can do that with iPhones. You can remotely lock, wipe and locate your phone through Apple’s website.

  • I am very sorry this happened to you and your friends. I have driven down the alley right next to that bike store a couple of times (I’m a 20 something female) and my former roommate worked there. I wish he had been working when this happened, I know he would have helped out. What amazes me is how many people didn’t react. Have you considered contacting the local business in that area alerting them to this and asking if they witnessed anything or have security cameras?

    How can we blame a certain group of individuals when we don’t step up ourselves? To all posters fighting about public housing or demographic, stop your bitching and accusations and give a damn about the other people passing you on the streets.

    Good grief people, -1 for humanity.

    • you know, everyone in the world thinks they would help out, but yet nobody did. we are humans and what the bystanders did is natural. I’m willing to bet that because there was more than one witness, it became less likely anyone would help. this is a common phenomenon in human behavior. they aren’t monsters or horrible people. truth is, most of us would be shocked by this and not know what to do other than dial 911. I would love to think I’d run over and shout or try to think of something else, but I’m sorry, I wouldn’t be surprised if my first thought was, “if I scream, they’ll come attack me or whip out their guns and shoot at me or the victims.”

      yes, it’s sad that nobody did anything, but this holier than thou b.s. is hilarious.

  • criminals often leave their own neighborhoods to go mug people in the “good” areas of DC. I was mugged several years ago in Cleveland Park and they were trying to use my ATM card an hour later in PG County. It doesn’t make sense for them to mug people in their own neighborhoods, as they can more easily be recognized. So they go to “good” neighborhoods where there are people with valuables and various means of public transportation to make a quick getaway.

    • Anyone who is on the Georgetown U listserve can attest that there lots and lots of violent crimes over there.

      I’d rather see a ban on black SUV’s from MD entering the city than getting rid of public housing.

    • Reminds me when Willie Sutton was asked, “Willie, why do you rob banks?” He replied, “‘Cause that’s where the money is.” Robbing poor people in your own neighborhood is not nearly as lucrative as traveling to a more well-off neighborhood and robbing people.

      Besides, you shouldn’t shit where you eat.

      • Do crime statistics support your theory? If this were true, wealthier neighborhoods would have higher crime rates than poorer ones.

        • It’s not my theory – it’s what the DC police told me when I was mugged. And I’m talking specifically about crimes like muggings, not all crimes, so wealthier neighborhoods probably do have lower overall crime rates than poorer ones. I moved three years ago to a neighborhood in NE and did search the DC crime stats before moving. I was amazed that neighborhoods I considered “dangerous” actually had far fewer crimes like muggings than neighborhoods I considered “safe.” In the three years I’ve lived in NE, there have been several murders within a few blocks of my place, but I don’t feel unsafe because almost none of the crimes were random acts against an “innocent” victim (not meaning anyone deserves to be murdered, but the victims of violent crime in my neighborhood are generally not the pillars of the community).

          • So can you explain why during the last 365 days there have been 233 violent crimes (including 177 robberies) in Columbia Heughts (near the Metro) and 8 (including 5 robberies) in Cleveland Park (near the Metro). In a corresponding period, there were 11 violent crimes in Friendship Heights (including 10 robberies). So there were 17 times more robberies in Columbia Heights than in Friendship Heights and 22 times more robberies in CoHi than in Cleveland Park. There was 1 violent crime all of last year in the the Palisades (Arizona Ave. & MacArthur). So much for that theory. But it will live on in PoPville because many people want so desperately for it to be true. Don’t let the facts ruin a good coping mechanism.

          • @theheights Have you ever walked thrum the Pallasades at night? That area is dead, almost no foot traffic. Crime is motive and opportunity, and Columbia Heights/U St/Logan Circle provide both. Of course the quiet residential neighborhoods west of the park have fewer muggings; they also have fewer convenient targets.

          • The area near the DuPont Circle Metro also had far fewer robberies and violent crimes than Columbia Heights (roughly 1/3-1/2 if memory serves). Plenty of people around at night there. I don’t know the figures for a Woodley Park, but I’ll bet they are far lower than Columbia Heights. The numbers don’t lie, but cherished notions, no matter how fanciful, die hard.

    • Thank you for saying this. It reminds me of years ago when my friend’s mom’s car was broken into in their garage. She was shocked that they could be the victims of a crime in their neighborhood. Didn’t surprise me one bit. If I were a thief, I’d go to the rich neighborhood too, because they have nicer shit to steal. People who think the thieves couldn’t possibly live anywhere but around the corner are just not thinking this through.

  • Hopefully now that the greedy cell phone carriers came to their senses, there will be much less incentive to steal a phone

  • at least in “nicer” “transitional” neighborhoods where it’s worthwhile doing so, this city needs a cop or two on foot on every block. I’d happily pay more taxes for that.

  • I’m still amazd the phones have appeal and resale value. They’re ubiquitous and obsolete every 6 months. Not that I want to catch a beating for mine, but these [email protected] would almost be doing me a favor forcing me to upgrade.

    But no blaming the victim. Blame the criminals perpetrating aggrevated assault and robbery.

    • Your phone doesn’t become useless after 6 months, it’s just not the latest and the greatest anymore. Many people would rather have, say, an iPhone or Droid (equal opportunity here, heh) even if an older platform than not have one. I also think nowadays people are so attached to their phone/devices and so much of their life is lived on, by, through these devices it’s not as if they are just “losing” a phone; it probably feels like they are losing more than that, if that makes sense.

      • Agreed. There’s actually tremendous value in the phone because its available without contract. An iPhone or similar phone without contract would put you back somewhere between $500-900.

  • What you have failed to address by your ignorant comments that condemn not only the poor, but racial minorities, is that the issue here is not the muggers, the issue here is the failure on the part of the community to respond to the attack. How many of you walk by violence, people in need, etc and turn a blind eye? How difficult is it to respond by calling 911, screaming at the top of lungs to intervene, or picking up the nearest 2×4 and plowing attackers over? This is not about the attackers, this is about how we as idle community members are actually perpetrators as well due to the fact that we do not do what is in our power to stop violence, oppression, or crime. I am sorry I wasn’t there at the scene of the attack. I am a 911 caller, I can scream really loud to scare off attackers, and promise not to turn the other way when I see people in need.

    • -100 to your comments that the issue is not about the muggers or the attackers.

      The primary issue here is exactly that — the muggers and the attackers. The secondary issue is that no one came to the victims’ defense, although it is partly understandable that many people are afraid of being shot while helping, which comes back to the primary problem being the attackers.

      I’ve personally intervened to stop muggings and theft, so I can speak from personal experience. However, I can understand why others wouldn’t want to take the risk.

      You’re wrong to say that witnesses are more “the issue” than the perp.

  • I think the real issue here is violence involved. There are easier ways to just rob someone of a cell phone, purse or whatever. These men could have just grabbed the women’s arms, or pretended to have a gun. They chose to brutally choke, beat and kick instead.

    And though it is a horrible feeling to assume that residents did nothing to help – consider how quickly this all happened. It was 9:30 at night, most people, if home would be watching TV or on the computer, maybe upstairs or at the back of the house. You hear something outside – you aren’t sure at first even what’s going on. It could easily take someone 30 seconds to realize something was wrong and get to a window, then another 20-30 seconds to process it and decide to take action. That action, for most people, would be to call 911, then perhaps shout from the house, not to run out to physically intervene.

    • “These men could have just grabbed the women’s arms, or pretended to have a gun. They chose to brutally choke, beat and kick instead.”

      Welll… it sounds like the violence came about in large part because the women resisted.

      This does NOT excuse the violence in any way. And while I like to think that if I were mugged, I’d give up my property (as I’ve always been told that’s the safest thing to do), I don’t know if I’d be that rational in the heat of the moment.

      It’s NOT the victim’s fault. But it wouldn’t hurt for us to consider (now, so as to be prepared if it ever happens) whether it might not just be better in that situation just to yield.

      • Read the post. The assailants grabbed the women and said “give it to me!” She doesn’t know what the f**K he is talking about – rape? When an attack happens time slows down and one doesn’t always know exactly what is happening. My point is that “simple – straightforward” robbers know how to get what they are after with much less damage, effort and risk!

        This sounds like an exceptionally brutal attack from the very beginning – which – for anyone living anywhere, used to anything (except for Rawanda/Sudan levels of atrocity) should cause alarm.

  • How awful. I’m so sorry that happened to you. Your story will keep me mindful to do whatever I can to help anyone if I’m a bystander in a similar situation. I carry a rape whistle… even if I were too scared to directly intervene, I’d hope I’d have the mind to make a lot of noise and create some sort of distraction.

    This was not your fault, and you should not allow any comments posted here make you feel otherwise.

  • Most of you don’t really get it at all. I think that a lot of the reason there has been an increase in muggings etc. is because of gentrification. So many of you people are new to DC. DC has changed a lot and there is a lot of resentment felt by many long standing residents. Their neighborhoods are being wiped out and priced out to their friends and famililies that have lived here for generations and now a bunch of cute lil white people have moved in with no regard to the history of the neighborhoods and city. I get it, DC is now a hip place to be but thats a new thing. Im white and live in MD but grew up hanging in DC from the 80’s to now, and I understand the feeling. I think some of the gentrification is good but a lot is not and it gets real annoying with all these new people moving in the area and don’t know sh*t about it or its history. Not an excuse for the muggings just reality. There werent all these clueless, ignorant targets in the city before and now there are. You have always had to watch your back in DC, and you still do even tho there are a bunch of neato restaurants and fancy condos in the city.

    • Long time residents that harbor resentment should look to themselves. They have had the city for 60+ years and have managed to burn it down worse than the War of 1812 and then let it fester and decay. This is a World Capital. There is no reason that it should be left in ruins. If the old timers can’t take care of it, let others who are willing come in and do. The truth hurts, but stop the whining and accept responsibility for your lack of action. These arguments about old timers being priced out of neighborhoods are so disingenuous regardless. If the family has in fact been in the house for generations, the increase per month in property taxes is NOT going to price you out of the neighborhood.

      • I love the term gentrifier. Lets see, I live in DC, bought a house that was falling down, fixed it up myself, now have a nice house two dogs, and two boys. I’m glad that makes people sick.

        Lets see how I got there. I worked hard in high school, got good enough grades to get into college. worked my ass off there. Was offered a job filing old paper work at an office worked my way up to officer status. Saved enough money to buy a run down house because its all I could afford, fixed it up with all by myself. Then I got married and started a family. I love the way thats a bad thing to people in DC.

        OP I am real sorry for you and your friends. And don’t give up on your fellow DC neighbors. Had that been in front of my house, I’d run out there and gladly beat the pulp out of these guys. If I got injured during it, then so be it, you help your fellow man, we have tons of people doing this everyday in our armed services. Not all black young males are bad, yes we know this, but we also know the risks in DC of being mugged by a black male are a lot higher than any other race.

        • The best comment! Reflective of me as well except I dont have dogs or kids.

        • Yes, working hard, saving, and having pride in your home’s appearance shouldn’t be apologized for (I’m sure there are spoiled silver spoon exceptions). Nobody is forcing people out of the neighborhoods, it is a choice to sell your home unless you ‘choose’ not to pay your mortgage and the property tax increase alone should not force you out.

          I am newer to DC, I love the new and older residents on my block. Everyone brings a unique flavor to the neighborhood. I think we (black, white, latino, asian, etc…) have a common bond to better the neighborhood and together we should bluntly oppose crime and violence through action. The tolerance and acceptance of certain behavior I see some places is ridiculous.

    • This is an asnine comments. Folks have been getting mugged on this stretch of Q Street long before gentrifiers were taking over Logan. I disdain the Starbucking-drinking, Blackberry-typing, baby carriage-pushing, cost-of-living increasing yuppies as much as the next person, but the muggings in the Logan/Dupoint area are not their fault and they were a problem in this area long before the area was trendy.

    • So, a combination of blame the victim, what do you expect from the people who lived here, their reaction is justified, white people with jobs and nice homes who move into the city deserve it?

      Words fail me.

      Wait, no they don’t. That’s idiotic.

    • I’m glad people like you are leaving the city then. Gentrification IS a good thing. Its making the city a better place to live. I’m sorry if the people who lived here when it was a sh*thole are resentful. they should be happy the city is getting cleaned up, rather than take out their resentment on innocent people. i’m sure the people who lived in DC before 1968 were real resentful when the riots happened and the city backslide into the murder capitol of the country too. this city has a long and wonderful history that didn’t start when you and your old neighbors moved here. Did you and these ‘resentful’ criminals take the time to learn the full history of the city when you moved here?

    • That’s just natural. Supply and Demand. When the owner of property makes housing of higher quality, there is demand for it and so the prices are higher.

      It’s a very natural thing.
      Those who resent it are more likely resenting their place in life (or their family’s place in life).

      So this resentment turns to violence, which shows the true character of the persons involved.

      And ultimately leads to incarceration or their death because there’s no place for violence prompted by resentment in society.

    • I not only get it, I’ve lived it and sorry, but your logic is senseless. I have lived here all my life (I am well into middle-aged) and I have been priced out of my own city too and yet somehow I have managed to never rob or mug someone. For you to say that just because there are ‘targets’ (your appalling choice of words) walking around, that the old resentful residents are just going to rob them and beat them is as illogical as the other posters saying that everyone in public housing is a criminal. Believe me there are plenty of long-time residents who may or may not be resentful who are not going to rob any one. The history of the neighborhoods and this city will not lead anyone to rob or beat anyone else and for you to suggest otherwise is nonsense.

    • It’s not like the muggers were giving the victims a pop quiz on their knowledge of the area’s history and or would have spared them if they’d aced it.

    • Are you kidding me with this??
      You mean to tell me the house I just bought and painstakingly restored is better off as the piece of shit crack house used by thugs for years?
      Funny, every neighbor on our street has come over to introduce themselves and tell us how happy they are that there’s not a CRACK HOUSE on their street anymore. And said neighbors have been there for 40+ years. They’re not nearly as unwelcoming as you are.
      I think we “get it” sweetheart. Brace yourself. The city is getting cleaned up. If you want to live in a dump, that’s your business. As for me and my new neighbors, we like it clean and safe.

  • Went through something similar 7 + years ago – although I was alone and as a large man was able to fight off the muggers/bashers after they sucker-punched me with a brick to the face.

    Couple of suggestions for anyone who may face something similar:

    1) Don’t yell “help,” instead yell “Fire!” – it will tend to attract more people

    2) if there are people around who aren’t stepping forward, you’re dealing with the “diffusion of responsibility” – the more people around, the less likely anyone will help, because everyone is taking social cues from everyone else around them and the lack of action tends to be reinforcing. To combat this, you have to direct someone to help. For instance, instead of hoping for the cab driver to do something, you point to the driver and command him to help. Actually pointing at people and demanding (not asking) they help can spur people to do something, and their actions will provide the correct social cues to others around.

    • I had read this before somewhere, but had forgotten the details of #2. Thanks for bringing this up.

    • +1 to your 1st point. In the moment, you might not instinctively remember to scream “Fire” but it should elicit more responses than “Help.”

      Interesting about your 2nd point. I’ve also heard that when there are more people around, sometimes no one moves to action because they are concerned how they will act/look/appear to others.

      • This is Psychology 101 – in a crowd of people, yelling generally for help is less effective than singling someone out and asking THEM to help you. The famous case study on this was that girl who was stabbed to death in the courtyard of her apartment building while like 30+ people watched from their windows and no one called the cops. Anyways – if you see someone walking by in a blue shirt yell “You in the blue shirt! help me!”. Psychologically it’s much harder to walk on by and they’re more likely to help you.

        Also, keep in mind that its probably never worth “engaging” or “confronting” the assailants in this situation – give them the phone and let them run away.

  • I think the main issue here (in addition to many of the great ones other posters have raised) is that it is unacceptable that in our nation’s capital such crime persists. Yes, DC has its share of problems, but poverty and these other factors aren’t unique to DC…every city has them. And let me be clear: muggings, robberies, assaults, murders, etc. aren’t a new phenomenon and didn’t start when Vincent Gray was elected mayor. They’ve been happening for far too long.

    Until DC residents really start to stand up and make it clear that the level of crime that exists must end, and that ALL elected leaders will be held accountable if it doesn’t, the status quo will just continue. Nobody should have to live in constant fear of being attacked, a fear I always had when living in DC. When I moved away a few months ago, it took me quite a long time to get used to walking down the street (during the day or at night) and not being paranoid that I was going to be the next random victim.

  • I am sorry this happened to you and I hope you and your friends are going to be OK. I have to say, this story made me sick to my stomach, because as you noted you were doing so many of the things we are told to do to be safe – traveling in a group, at a reasonable hour, on a block that is generally accepted to be realitvely safe. To think that a phone and a purse should elicit such violence — it really is hard for me to understand; it is also very hard for me to accept that this city is becoming so awful.

  • I know they always say that you should just give them your purse. But my purse contains both my ID with my address and my keys — it would be terrifying to think that they could get into my house right away. How quickly can you get your locks changed when you don’t have a phone, keys, or wallet? Just the thought scares the $#@! out of me.

    • gotryit

      You can find a locksmith who will come out fairly quickly. Hopefully you have a friend / family member / neighbor that can spot you a few hundred to get something like that done when you don’t have access to your cards.

      • I’ve never encountered a locksmith who will change locks without some sort of proof that you are who you say you are and that you live in the house/apt. It can be pretty difficult if you are not a renter.

    • I was robbed on vacation once – on my way to the airport to get my plane (international) home, and had unknowingly packed my wallet and keys/passport separately. That saved me – the robbers had my keys/passport/camera and other things that are more easily replaced (at that time, passports were easier to replace, pre-9/11) but I had my wallet. I had to stay abroad for an extra day, but that experience taught me to try to keep some items apart. I also don’t “go out” at night with a lot of stuff on me and have neighbors with spare keys.

  • Really disheartened to read this account. I hope someday soon we can have nice things without pretending we don’t have them or only enjoying/using them in the confines of our homes. (phones / headphones / jewelry / laptop bags / purses – you name it)

    I live right by 14/Q and think getting new tenants back into ACKC, Well Built, and Shirt Laundry will help a lot. It’s a little dead right now & I have noticed more loitering lately.

    I also don’t think I would have seen a woman pull her pants down and pee right by the 14/Q bus stop at 5p last Thursday if there were some people enjoying a snack at ACKC.

  • Those of us who have lived in DC for a long time will never forget that the city is, and has always been, inherently dangerous. While we marvel at how far 14th St and Chinatown have come, it’s always with the knowledge of just how dangerous those areas once were. People who have moved to the “new” DC are lucky in their naivety, but over time start to realize they are in a real city with real problems.

    I’m really sorry this happened to you and your friends, and hope that you never have to go through a similar ordeal ever again.

  • I got mugged at the exact same location a few years ago, and realized, like a few others have mentioned, that certain blocks are more mugger-friendly than others. 15th and Q is a particularly bad spot because it’s covered with thick trees, there’s an alley, and there are frequent spells with no cars driving by. While it’s never fail-safe, it’s best to stick to well-lit routes with wide sidewalks, and lots of vehicle and pedestrian traffic (like P Street). When I need to take a darker, smaller, deserted street, I try to walk in the middle of the street rather than on the sidewalk. All that said, I’m very sorry this happened to you – it’s too bad that there are such awful people in this world (and city).

  • I’m so sorry this happened to you and your friends. Hopefully something will change for the better because of this awful event.
    Does anybody have any recommended/creative solutions for curbing the crime in this confined area? I’m wondering if multiple street cameras, increased alley lighting, and police doing foot patrols would help at least deter some of the crime.

  • What strikes me about this blog and so many others like it is the ease with which so many are able to coalesce the “older” or “longer-term” residents into one box. Sure, most longer-term residents in this town, myself being one of them, are Black! That is because white people who had been here in higher numbers than Blacks up til the 1940s, decided to leave when schools, businesses and neighborhoods were de-segregated by law. They didn’t want to live with Black folks then either. But what you may not have take the time to learn in the haste to “short-hand” the conversation or to repeat some ignorant, uninformed bit that your “new” neighbor or the guy in line for latte might have repeated, lots of higher income Blacks left too. That is how Prince George’s County went from being a Brady Bunch community as it STILL was in the 1970s to the Jefforsons move to the suburbs.

    What was left was the lower-class of African-Americans, most of whom rented and many of whom lived in subsidized housing. Then came the latinos. And then years later came the younger whites who wanted it all back! Neighborhoods change but often not without a fight. I remember watching the Boston busing riots on TV as a kid in the 70s. How Blacks who were sent to schools in formerly white areas were treated was shameful and horrifying! People are resistant to change all over and in most circumstances. I’m not saying that justifies doing bad things to people because you don’t want them around in ANY community, at ANY time, under ANY circumstances. But please don’t act like all the Blacks who lived in this city are the same and please don’t act like you’ve never heard of people being hateful. I think people in poor, underserved, formerly shunned and castigated communities have historically had the least ability to harm. It is those with all the financial wherewithal, the supposed smarts, the “right” upbringing and the historic priviledge that I worry about the most when it comes to harm. I worry that they feel they can do whatever they want to others because of who they think they are.

    I believe that we can do better at living together in Washington. This is a much more interesting and exciting city because of its racial, ethnic and income diversity. Better to leave the arrogant thinking behind and take on an opportunity to grow, learn and become a new and better person. Many of us have had to do that and I count it as an achievement.

  • PoP–Can we get a police officer or someone with experience to tell us what to do if we witness something like this? I mean, I know to call 911, but what else can you do?

  • I say this every time and always get blasted for it, but it bears repeating:

    “There is no ‘good area’ of D.C. Period.”

    And whenever you’re East of Rock Creek Park, there are especially no “good areas.”

    And yes, public housing has a lot to do with it. But criminals can take buses too.

  • What’s a panic button and how can I get one?

  • I got mugged at 14th / Q last summer, in broad daylight. Luckily I didn’t have my phone with me, so they got my wallet only and about $40. Afterwards, I got to thinking about it and realized I might very well have put up a fight without really thinking it through on the spot over my iPhone, since it’s a $600 phone and it has so much personal data on it. I was talking with a friend who told me she carries around her old, totally dead Blackberry in her purse just in case she gets mugged – she turns over the dead phone, says the battery is out, and hopefully retains the working iPhone. Of course, this only works if the mugger doesn’t see you texting or emailing from the live phone, but I don’t do that anymore in public so perhaps my dead Blackberry will work if I ever get targeted again!

  • I would like to correct some of the allegations about people who witnessed this incident. In her post, the victim writes:

    “I would never blame the woman that saw us through her window and called the police, why she didn’t come out. I understand the fear and hesitation. However, being in this position now, I feel that as citizens we need to intervene more.”

    I am that woman in the house, and for the record, I did come out! I heard a ruckus outside from the second floor of my house, and when I looked out the window, I saw her lying on the ground and being beaten and kicked. It was horrible. But that is also why I first called 911 and tried to accurately describe the situation and what I could see of the assailant. It would have been foolish of me to run out into the street without first calling for help.

    As soon as I hung up with the dispatcher, I ran outside in my bathrobe with my five-year-old daughter trailing along behind and 8-year-old son watching from the stoop. By the time I got to the sidewalk, the guy was gone. (I did not witness the entire attack so was not aware there were two assailants.) I invited the woman to come into my house and any other assistance she might have needed. She and her friends declined the offer.

    Despite what the victim said, this crime did not take place in a busy pedestrian area. Q Street is not filled with restaurants and bars. Those are on 14th Street around the corner. Aside from the Bike Rack, which was closed, Q Street is almost entirely residential, and where she was attacked was a particularly dark spot, with big trees and bushes there, and not that much pedestrian traffic. Given that it was a Friday night, it’s likely that not that many people witnessed the event in real time.

    Even so, there was at least one man walking down the sidewalk when the women were attacked, and when he saw from a distance what was happening, he did what most sane people would do: he immediately got on his phone to call the police. When they got there, he was able to give the police a clear description of the man and he was able to tell the police where the guy ran off to.

    As the victim said, the whole incident lasted just a brief moment, if that. While I’m sure it must have seemed like an eternity to her, there would have been little time for the man on the sidewalk to intervene, even if that had been a reasonable thing to do. And even if I had run out of my house when I realized what was happening, before calling 911, wielding a frying pan with which to konk the mugger on the head, I wouldn’t have had the chance. By the time I could get there with my cookware, he would have been gone.

    Besides all that, anyone who has lived in DC for long knows that the odds of an assailant carrying a gun are exceedingly high. No one is going to chase a mugger who took a cell phone and risk getting killed in the process. But the people who did see what happened didn’t sit idly by. I would bet money that the cab driver the woman referred to in her post also called 911, and left only because it was clear that several other people had arrived to help.

    Thanks to all those 911 calls, three police cars arrived on the scene within minutes—not soon enough to apprehend the muggers, but pretty fast in DC time for a police response. They also sent a helicopter to canvass the neighborhood, and later an ambulance came. Q Street looked like a major crime scene.

    I am truly sorry about what happened to this woman and her friends. It was indeed violent and frightening. But I take issue with her description of the people who saw it happen. Many of us on Q Street have lived there since murders were a common occurrence, and shootings are still quite common in the neighborhood. I’ve been mugged, and I’ve even seen robbers snatch phones right out of people’s hands while they’re talking on them. We are used to dealing with crime and have never been shrinking violets in that department, but our intervention is reality-based: We call the cops first before doing something that could get more people hurt. People who knew what was going on did what they could to come to this woman’s aid when she was attacked. Sadly, there just wasn’t all that much they could do.

    • Thanks for sharing your view. If I were in the same situation I would have done exactly what you did – call 911.

      And it seems the incident was over before anyone could intervene (beyond calling the police).

    • Although in the immediate aftermath the victim may not have remembered that you came out and offered assistance, I hope at some point she did remember and appreciated your support.

  • Why didn’t the girl just fork over the phone?

  • Wow lots of racists here.

    As a DC native, it wasn’t too long ago – 6-8 years even – that Logan was totally shady. The transients need to realize that this isn’t San Fran, SD or NYC even. My friends lived at 14th and Wallach for years (until 2006) when the only place on 14th was the Black Cat – and they use to get mugged often. You can’t stroll around with your cellphones out, texting and being totally ignorant of your surroundings. This is DC – former murder capital of the nation. It may look prettier and more gentrified with all the white people walking around these days – but it’s still a sketchy, violent city. And I call B/S to the public housing profiling/racist commentary – this was *their* home long before yours so don’t come in with your GenY sense of entitlement and think it’s your place to kick out the poor DC natives. In fact if that’s your argument, then you should be hauling your podunk-ass back to your Midwest styx.

    • Excuse me, as another DC native (born in SE), don’t give me that “their city” nonsense. No one has a right to live in an area, especially if they can’t even take good care of their own damn cities.

      I don’t care for kickball, lattes, snowball fights, and especially midwestern white people, but gentrification is far better than what my fellow “natives” have done to their own city. Nothing but entitlement, jealousy, and resentment on their part. It’s easier to collect government handouts and vote for Marion Barry than actually get your ass in shape like first generation Asian immigrants.

  • Additionally, it is totally unreasonable to expect civilians to physically intervene putting themselves in harms way as well. The most that any of these people should have done is call the cops of yell out at them to stop. But you can’t *expect* a woman to come out of her house or a cab driver to get out of his car, run over and try to fight them off, putting themselves in danger. If they did – that would be very honorable and courageous. But you can’t be mad at people for not coming to your rescue – they were probably just as afraid as you girls. It’s awful this happened – but so fortunate it did not end tragically. … and hopefully any future victims will know better – just hand over the phone and purse immediately. It’s not worth dying over.

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