Disturbing Robbery/Assault Reported on Columbia Heights Listserv

Photo of Tubman Elementary, 13th and Kenyon St, NW, by PoPville flickr user guy_incognito

From the CH Listserv:

At seven or so this evening, a friend of mine encountered a young (she said 30s?) man who had just been assaulted and robbed. The guy told her that he had tried to sell his camera on Craigslist, met the “buyers” at Harriet Tubman school (in the parking lot), and was beaten up and robbed. He called the police, and my friend also followed up with the police afterwards.

She was understandably alarmed, not only because it is always traumatic to encounter a relatively violent crime, but because it was around 7pm (ie, bright out) and there were people all around, including several witnesses who did nothing. That was sort of a shame, as HT really is in the heart of Columbia Heights. I’m emailing the listhost because:

1. you know. FYI?
2. BE CAREFUL when selling things on craigslist!
3. If you see something, say something? My friend saw a bloodied young man and people just passed him by. I know that it’s not always the safest thing to help strangers, but we’re a great neighborhood, and I’d hate to think of any of us sitting there unhelped.

Anyway, sorry for the mini rant. Hope you’re all safe, and and that you help a person in need (if it’s within your power).

32 Comment

  • I just had an encounter where a homeless man was clearly on the ground injured and I watched about half a dozen people walk by him before I walked up to help. I don’t understand how people could not notice a human being clearly injured on the ground and stumbling to get to his feet. I did not see him fall initially, but I clearly saw him struggling to get up.

    If someone is being violently assaulted, call 911 from a safe distance. If you are with a group, call out “Hey, leave him/her alone!”. Even if you’re alone in a crowd and at a safe distance, yell out the same thing. Once others see you acting, they are likely to also yell “Leave him/her alone” and the perp(s), knowing there are witnesses, will leave. If we all do things like this, the city will be safer.

    Hope the crooks are caught.

    • How could you tell he was injured and not inebriated?

      • Because I’ve been drunk plenty of times. He was also tangled in a cord that he had clearly tripped over. Since tripping over a cord and falling onto concrete generally hurts, I made the logical assumption that he was probably injured, since he tried to stand on his own power, then fell back to the ground.

      • I see dudes passed out in Mt. Pleasant all of the time. They usually have 24 oz Tecate or Malt liqour in their hand. I see no reason to disturb their slummber

    • Strongly agree that we need to look out for one another, and not just for ourselves. That means scanning the whole block for suspicious people; observing their actions toward other people and others’ property; and intervening (calling 911 or yelling “stop”) when crime occurs. When we do this for each other, we create a network of sentinels and make a far safer neighborhood.

  • If you’re meeting people to do deals via craigslist, meet in front of a police station.

    • good tip… going to use that next time

      • definitely a good idea. never meet alone either

        i bought something off of craigslist and met, with a friend, in the woman’s apartment. She couldn’t have been younger than 70 and could barely move around. She should not have been selling things off Craigslist and letting two strangers into her apartment. I cringe thinking of what could’ve happened if we weren’t legit.

        • Schedule pick-ups at public, typically video monitored locations, i.e. bank lobbies, restaurants, convenience stores. Avoid parking lots and shopping malls, people generally won’t be paying attention to your transaction. As always, bring a friend or two.

  • As long as bystanders continue to do nothing when this happens, it will continue to happen because the thieves know they will get away with it. Thank your friend for stepping up to help this man!

  • If you do not feel comfortable calling, you can anonymously text the issue & location to 50411

    Unrelated: Ugh, the “sort of” before “shame is” killing me. Too much NPR for this OP. it IS a shame.

  • Good job by your friend, and totally agree that we cannot be passive bystanders to crime.

    Earlier today I posted information in the Forum for the PSA meeting in Petworth tonight. Attending these meetings won’t stop crime, but it does send the message to the police that the community will not sit idly by while people are shot, beaten, and robbed. Many of these meetings are not well-attended, which probably gives the impression that we’re apathetic about what goes on in our streets. I know MPD is strapped for resources, but hopefully having an active citizenry will help prioritize police involvement and safer streets.

  • I’ve never had a problem conducting business transactions at 7pm with total strangers in parking lots, although they usually result in me holding a bag filled with seeds and stems and my wallet being $20 lighter.

    • I remember a time when 14th and Gerard or Clifton was nothing but sticks and stems dealers. How times change!

      • Ha! I remember when the Fruit of Islam used to beat up the Clifton Terrace dealers with baseball bats. At least Euclid is still Euclid. Now get off my lawn.

        • I remember also when they kicked some ass in Mayfair and Kenilworth back in the day. Sigh Alas….

    • If you’re only paying $20, you should know not to expect anything more.

  • T

    I was in Columbia Heights last night for the first time in a couple of months. The first thing I saw was a late-30s guy holding his daughters hand and dealing baggies of something or other out of his other hand. Right out in the open on the sidewalk. Incredible. This was just north of 14th and Columbia on 14th. Before I could find a cop to notify, he was already walking away.

    • I’ve seen that with a girl holding her baby. Very disturbing and sad

      • People are constantly buying/selling/smoking drugs in the Bruce Monroe Park by the kiddie swings, too. Seeing kids and infants around doesn’t deter them one bit. They even leave their little plastic drug baggies all over the park. They just don’t give a shit and it’s really heartbreaking. Patrols really need to be stepped up and people need to start calling 911 whenever they see anything shady going on. No more tolerance for bullshit, people!

  • I feel bad this happened, but common sense should prevail and tell you that meeting in an inactive parking lot is not smart. Meeting in a crowded/more secure location probably would deter such a crime.

  • This is a horrible event and I agree how terrible the indeference of by standers is when something like this happens.
    However, I can’t understand how anybody is his or her right mind agrees to meet with a prospective buyer at a parking lot of a school regardless of the time of the day.
    To say that prudence should be excercise is an understatement.

  • Also, when meeting people to buy or sell items posted on craigslist, always ask for a telephone number and speak to the person on the phone first. Very few petty thieves will go through the trouble of getting a phone that can’t be traced for the purpose of robbing you. Also, people can sometimes be tracked down via their email address (if they’re not smart about methods to conceal the ip).

  • I sold everything out of my apartment in my move. Didn’t have any problems and most people brought a friend for safety assurances. I think making people take a trip to Silver Spring weeded out some of the trouble plus it was mostly furniture.

  • ALWAYS talk to craigslist people on the phone. You can get a great idea of how sketchy or not they will be.

  • Seems like they caught the guy:

    On Wednesday, June 27, 2012, at approximately 7:15 the adult victim met up with the suspect in order to sell an expensive item. The adult male suspect looked over the expensive item and then punched the victim in the face with a closed fist. The suspect then grabbed the item and fled the scene.

    Today at approximately 7:37, the suspect in this Robbery was stopped by members of the Third District Robbery Tactical Unit. A short time later a positive identification was made and the suspect was arrested for Robbery Force and Violence.

    The victim sustained minor injuries to his face and was treated by the Ambulance. Unfortunately the expensive item was not recovered at the time of the suspect’s arrest.


  • thank you for putting out this reminder that people need to ACT when they see something! my friend and his brother were mugged about 5 years ago right nearby, half a block from the Wonderland it was dark, but not late. there is NO WAY people on that patio wouldn’t have heard them yelling, but no one did anything until they stumbled up to the door of the bar bleeding

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