Reader Shares Recent Violent Mugging in Ledroit Park

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Dear PoPville,

I was the victim of a violent mugging last Friday night, and am trying to get the word out about the increasing violence in and around the Ledroit Park neighborhood. It was the night the storm hit. The storm had just passed, actually, when I was on my way home from the Shaw/Howard University Metro station. I walked across the new Howard Theater at around 11:30pm that night. It was still raining a little bit. After I crossed U Street and started to head into the neighborhood, I realized I was being followed by 4 or 5 young men. In a panic, I didn’t know what to do. They closed in on me on U Street NW (between 4th and 5th). They tackled me to the ground, punched me in the face several times and stole my wallet. Once they had my wallet, they ran away. I ran home, bloody, leaving my flip-flops on the street and flagged down a police officer who was near my apartment building at 2nd and W NW. I filed a police report and, all told, was extremely lucky not to have been more seriously injured or hospitalized.

A few lessons I learned the hard way:

1.) NEVER wear flip-flops after dark. I would never have thought of this, but you simply cannot run or escape in flip-flops, especially if it’s raining.

2.) I will not walk home alone after dark again, and would encourage anyone (male or female) not to do so either.

3.) NEVER walk further into a neighborhood if you feel like you’re being followed. I’m not sure how I could have done anything differently as it’s very difficult to turn around and walk toward a group of men who are following you. I will likely carry pepper spray from now on.

Ed. Note: Another violent incident nearby was recently shared on the Ledroit Park listserv here.

45 Comment

  • Yikes. Glad you weren’t injured further.

  • #2 is an understandable response given what happened to the victim, but it’s not a realistic policy for most people. Especially in the winter when it gets dark early. And besides, a lot of these crimes have been happening during daylight hours so I don’t think it can be completely avoided. Just do what you can– try to stay on well-lit streets with a lot of foot traffic, be aware of your surroundings, don’t have your iPhone out, etc– but there’s no way to completely prevent a robbery from happening unless you never leave the house.

  • It’s probably a good idea for everybody to carry pepper spray in this city these days.

    • If I had to walk around at night in the District, I’d probably carry a walking stick. Perhaps criminals might be deterred if they see that you have the means to break bones.

      • “If I had to walk around at night in the District”

        … you don’t? Do you not live here, or drive everywhere? Or are you sealed in your house by 8pm (4pm in December)?

  • “3.) NEVER walk further into a neighborhood if you feel like you’re being followed.”

    Exactly. I’ve been mugged twice in DC, and the second time was a jump and there was nothing I could do. But the first time, I was walking home on Mass. Ave. NE from the Union Station Metro and thought I was being followed. But I told myself that I was being paranoid and unfairly profiling someone, and then passed up the chance to duck into an open business and thwart the attack. But I did nothing, and kept on walking onto a residential block where I had no options, and BANG. Now I know to TRUST MY INSTINCTS. (If a situation feels weird, it probably is.) Also, walking alone at night, I walk in the street, not on the sidewalk, particularly if that side of the street has parked cars.

  • I’m skeptical to believe pepper spray is going to save you in a situation like this and I think it would most likely encourage your attackers to inflict more harm on you. Do you honestly think 4 or 5 thugs are going to fall on the ground or run away if you spray them with pepper spray? You may get one, or two but what about the others?

    I’m sure someone can provide data on how effective pepper spray, mace, etc. is on discouraging or preventing muggings.

    • I’m not sure of the statistics on using pepper spray to ward off a mugging or attack, but it may have saved the young man’s life who was being attacked (and stabbed) by 3 people only a few blocks from this location earlier this summer.

      There is a write up on the plea deal that is in the works here:

      “According to charging documents, witnesses told police that the three had approached the victim from behind in the 600 block of T Street NW while making homophobic comments directed at him. Witnesses told police that Campbell then held the victim in a headlock, assisted by Alvonica Jackson; and that Ali Jackson then stabbed the victim once in his left bicep, once in his lower back and once in his left leg.

      During the struggle, the teenage victim produced a can of pepper spray and sprayed all three suspects, who then fled the scene. The victim was later transported to Howard University Hospital, where he was treated for his wounds.”

    • I agree that pepper spray won’t save you from getting mugged, but it may help identify the attacker if they are caught. A friend of mine was violently mugged in DC a couple of years ago and she managed to spray the attacker. While it didn’t stop the mugging, when the guy was caught the police later that evening he was easily identifiable.

  • You know I was always someone who was not an advocate of carrying a gun. DC has a way of changing your mind.

    • Like I said, makes you rethink the whole “stand your ground” law. It will be only a matter of time until conceal/carry is enacted in DC.

    • How exactly would having a gun change the situation? And, if it did change the situation, I would think there are equal odds that it will make the outcome worse for the victim rather than better… thugs carry guns too and they dont always use them. 3 and 4 on 1 and you’re still outnumbered. I’m all for gun rights, but I think this whole machismo vigilante thing is a bit overblown. No reason to think that having a gun out on the street during a robbery will do anything but get you shot.

      Its hard to know beforehand whether having a gun will keep you from getting shot or make you get shot…

      • Except for one discredited study, there’s no evidence that carrying a gun leads to lower crime.

        • Don’t see any evidence it hurts things either. If the thugs are out packin’, I should be able to have that option too. Doesn’t mean it’s for everyone, but I think I should have the right.

  • pennyworth

    you left your cold steel espada at home? i still cannot understand how a grown man living in a major city does not carry a pocket knife. sorry you got mugged tho.

    • Can you buy us cold steel espadas?

    • Brilliant. If he’d had a knife, those muggers would have not only walked away with a wallet, but a new weapon as well.

    • Ha. This isn’t lawless Somalia we’re talking about. I shouldn’t have to take such extreme measures to ensure my own safety.

    • pennyworth

      lol i’ll spring for a byrd cara cara 2. if he had a knife, i highly doubt the muggers would have been as eager to rob him.

      how is carrying a knife extreme? that’s so foreign to me. every guy i grew up with has carried a knife since about age 16.

      • How would they know he was carrying a knife? A sign on his back? And how is one dude with a knife going to overtake 5 guys?

        Chances are they would’ve attacked him anyways, he’d pull out the knife, maybe get one guy, piss the other ones off, they’d wrestle the knife from him, and either use it against him or keep it, and that’s another weapon in the wrong hands.

        • pennyworth

          if you want people to know you’re carrying a knife, buy a cold steel ak47 folder … or just wear a neck knife. hooligans and ruffians are not at all interested in a more difficult fight. they want the easy victim; not the guy/girl who has a knife and knows how to use it.

        • Haven’t you seen West Side Story? When one guy pulls a knife in an urban crime situation, another guy also pulls one. Then everyone else backs away and snaps their fingers. Then the two guys do some ballet moves, one stans the other, and everyone runs away. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.

      • First of all, he was jumped and indicated he panicked and didn’t have time to react. Second, unless he was already brandishing it, how were the muggers going to know he was carrying it? Third, there were five of them. If carrying one makes you feel safe or whatever, go for it. But when an average person gets jumped from behind by five dudes in the middle of the night, a knife/gun/pepper spray/whatever has little chance of being effective.

    • I actually do carry a pocket knife, but use it for useful things like cutting threads off my shirt and other similar randomness… carrying a knife as a “back up plan” just because carrying guns is illegal is just as troubling as carrying a gun. Unless it becomes entirely obvious that my life is about to be taken I won’t use my knife to fight.

      Flipping a knife open as a “deterrent” will only lead to further escalation and trouble.

      BTW… I believe this incident was female based on the notice in the Ledroit Park listserv.

  • claire

    Scary, I walk that way all the time coming home to Bloomingdale. It’s a much nicer walk through Ledroit Park than down Florida, but in light of this, maybe it’d be safer to just go down Florida… Really scary that it was a large group like that and so violent…

  • Very sorry you had to experience this. Be strong.

  • Know that there are total strangers out there now wishing you strength in this hard time.

  • 1) Sorry this happened; I’ve been mugged and it sucks
    2) Recommend against pepper spray. It’s very hard to aim, isn’t effective against everyone, and could be used against you.
    3) Crime is down, according to the police, and the police commissioner got a 40% raise over the past 5 years.

  • Does the MPD send out undercover officers to bait robbers?

    • I know they did recently in the Eastern Market area to bait thieves. I think that was more petty theft though, and if I remember correctly, it was during the daytime. Not sure if they’re ever used to bait this type of crime.

      • Back 5 years ago I repeatedly ask MPD to do this in Columbia Heights and I shit you not – one officer told me on the 3D Substation listserv that they wouldn’t do it because “we could get hurt’!

        But recently I heard they have been doing it – maybe in CH and apparently around eastern market…

        Seems like a no brainer to get an undercover decoy cop to walk around at midnight and when a robber approaches have the cop and his hidden friends pounce!

  • Group crime is so depressing because the individual criminals evidently have no shame about it, at least within their group, and have little if any social deterrent. On the contrary, they reinforce one other’s criminality.

    That leaves getting physically hurt by their would-be victims, and getting caught by the police, as the main deterrents.

  • Just wanted to say I’m really sorry this happened to you. I hope you recover physically and emotionally very quickly and that your attackers are brought to justice.

    I second the not wearing flip flops and I’d add not to wear 4″+ heels either. Many times I see women heading home late at night who are walking like wounded seals. Obviously people should be able to wear whatever they want without fear of getting attacked, but your stripper shoes aren’t doing you any favors.

    • I have short legs so wearing heels actually helps me run faster. I don’t know why so many women wear heels if they don’t find them comfortable, but if you’re one of those women you can get flats that fold up into a little pouch. I carry a set around just in case a shoe breaks but I haven’t needed them yet.

      • Hm, interesting. Can you explain how this works? Short legs + high heels = faster run? I’m truly fascinated by this.

      • I would actually bet that it can be scientifically proven that wearing heels does not help you run faster no matter the length of your leg.

  • The victim’s first suggestion is probably among the most useful. Flip-flops slow you down and make it easy to fall. Other than a short walk to the store or taking out the trash, I save them for the pool where they belong.

  • As it so happens, my partner and I were mugged by a group of five young men last October in Bloomingdale. We were on our way to a Halloween party; he was carrying a pumpkin and I was carrying a block of dry ice. We had that same sense of somebody following us, but did also chalked it up to paranoia. We were told to empty our pockets, and were punched several times in the head and torso. My partner managed to scrabble away and called for help, at which time the young men dispersed. I suffered burns to my arms, as when I was being punched, I instinctively huddled around the dry ice. Scary stuff. My guess is that the five young men are the same, or at least run among the same group. I am sad to see that Bloomingdale has not changed.

  • It’s official: I’m taking a cab everywhere after dark. Two guys tried to mug me at gunpoint on Vermont AVE a couple of weeks ago but I managed to escape. I’m at my wits end over the safety issue here. This may not be lawless Somalia, but I’d feel safer if there were a few guys on my side riding around in truck-mounted artillery.

  • I always took a cab home after dark when I lived DC…always. Used to live a block from the waterfront station, and still, always took a cab home.

  • Society made them do it!

  • I’m so sorry this happened to you.
    I hope you heal quickly

  • Carry around a baseball bat, and look like you’re not afraid to use it. The thugs will leave you alone.

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