Dear PoPville – “Attempted attack on my wife and I on Friday at about 5:30 PM on 14th and Park”

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 10.10.02 AM
Photo by PoPville flickr user rosiedawn

“Dear PoPville,

At about 5:45 PM on Friday night (June 21), my wife and I were walking down 14th street toward the metro and were approaching Park Road. We were just at about the front door of Z Burger on 14th street when we both noticed a suspicious male staring at us as we we were walking. He was maybe 3 feet from the Z Burger entrance where we were closer to Wells Fargo entrance but much closer to the right side of the sidewalk, close to the street.

We both didn’t know we sensed something strange about this guy until my wife and I talked after the incident once we were safe. Basically, “Yeah I noticed him too when we were walking but didn’t think that was going to happen.”

As we were approaching him, I started to move my wife and I closer and closer to the right hand side of the sidewalk as I saw the man keep staring at us and walking slowly towards us. Again, something seemed strange and my instincts kicked in.

I would say there were probably easily 100 people crowded on the sidewalk in every direction as this was as a very busy time on Friday night as the “square” in front of the Pollo Campero and the yogurt shop was packed and people walking “with” us and past us on 14th as usual.

As we got closer to the Z Burger, he came sprinting at us with what I can only describe as a 1000 yard stare in his eyes – as if he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It was very scary. I yelled at my wife to run, and I shielded her from him as we moved away. He came charging at me, and I put my hands out instinctually and yelled as loud as I could at him. My hope was I could startle him as well and prepare to physically defend myself if he kept charging.

The only thing that saved us was there was another guy who was with this suspect who held him back and asked him “Hey man, what are you doing, stop.” My wife began sprinting toward the Giant and I began backpedaling backwards to make sure he was not still coming at my wife and me. His “friend” was still holding him.

At closest contact, he was maybe a few inches away from me and my hands shoved outwards toward him.

We continued to run to the Giant because there is often a police officer posted inside the door.

Sure enough, there was.

We told the officer to hurry with us to try and find the guy – of course, he slowly walked outside of the Giant with us so I took off running myself back to the Z Burger to see if I could spot the guy since the officer had about as much interest in helping find him as a person walking to go to the dentist for a root canal. (I apologize for my snarkiness but this leads to more of an issue later on with the police.)

Unfortunately, the guy was gone as was his “friend”.

I returned to my wife and the officer and we began telling the officer what happened. The office even joked to my wife “Where is your husband going?” I told the officer when I returned I was trying to see if the guy was hiding nearby. It just felt so surreal as the officer seemed so disinterested in what happened even before we told him despite our urgency and sense of panic.

The officer was kind enough to tell us that filing a report would be pointless since there was no assault to which I countered and said “This was a clear case of physical intimidation with a threat of assault.” He smirked. He then said if I would have “knocked the guy out” – the police would know the difference between a good guy like myself and a bad homeless man so next time just defend yourself. I was sorta baffled/surprised by his comments but wasn’t about to question his advice at this point and escalate things with him.

He did say, since we lived a few blocks away, that if I saw the guy again to call 911 and report it so they could “question him, run his name to see if he has any warrants out for his arrest”. I said I would.

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon. I went to go get lunch when sure enough I saw the man who tried to attack us. He was loitering by Sticky Fingers and the farmers market – walking back and forth between the 2 locations on the sidewalk near the plant boxes in front of the citibank on Park.

I went into the Giant to see if that officer was there; he was not. The manager of the store said “we have some undercover Giant employees here but no officer this afternoon.”

I called 911 and reported the individual. I said I would wait to help identify him to the officers.

5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes. Nothing. I continued to watch the man go up to at least 10 women and try to intimidate them. He would often stop in front of them on the sidewalk and not move – just staring at them – and force them to walk into the street to avoid him. He would then start walking behind them, staring at them. This was much less aggressive behavior than what we witnessed the night before but nonetheless it seemed to fit his behavior of trying to intimidate women.

I then watched him try and get into a car after asking the driver for money – he tried to open the door but the car sped off and luckily the door was locked. I also saw him urinate in the alley between Sticky Fingers and the Dry Cleaners on Park Road. If you’re asking yourself, “Man, this guy sure watched this suspect a lot.” Well that was because I expected the police to show up any minute. They never did.

I called back to 911 3 times to give the dispatcher an update on the man’s location as he kept walking up and down Park Road between 13th and 14th street. I was told several times by the dispatcher – “The next available unit is on its way.”

I also saw him take some fruit from a vendor at the farmers market.

2 more thing happened during the 45 minutes of me waiting for the police who never showed up.

1) I found 2 officers in a marked police van sitting idling in front of the chipotle. I went over, asked them if they were on-duty and asked them if they heard the dispatch about the man I called in about 30 minutes ago.

They shrugged their shoulders and said “we’re on duty but didn’t hear any call – what’s going on?” I explained what happened and they asked me “Did you file a report?” I said I was told by the officer last night not to file a report but to call it in if I saw the guy again. He said “Well, you’re not going to like to hear what I’m going to tell you but you should have filed a report – we’re not going to do anything now.” I told him, what does that have to do with me calling into 911 now and not seeing any officer respond for the last 30 minutes?” He laughed at me. The other office never even looked at me or said anything. He just stared out the window straight ahead.

I then looked at both of them and said “You both have been a great help to me today. What are your names.” I wrote down their names and walked away disgusted. They then started the van and started to trail me. He began to call out “Hey you – what’s your name.” I turned around and said “If you’re going to respond to my 911 call, then go ahead. Otherwise I have nothing else to say to you. But, my name is “Name” and all my info is on my 911 call if you want it.” It was really sad this was all happening.

2) I also walked over to the vendor whose fruit I thought he was stealing and eating. She told me the following:

-The guy is always around and he demands money from her which she refuses

-She often lets him take the fruit because she’s scared of him

-He touched her son’s stomach several times in a playful manner but said it was very strange (Her son was probably 12-13 years old and told me about the stomach incident and said “The guy with the bandana and hat” to confirm that we were all talking about the same guy which I never pointed him out to them.

-She’s intimidated by his behavior but there are no police around so she tries to appease him

-She’d rather not make the man upset because she feels like she has no protection

I returned home and called the District 3 and District 4 Police Office to try and get more info on how to file a report and a complaint against the 2 officers if in fact this was not proper behavior. A good 45-60 minutes had passed and I watched this guy the whole time – no office ever showed up.

So I guess my story boils down to 2 things:

1) The original suspect that tried to attacked my wife and I is going to do this again. I fear for what could happen. If I were not with my wife on Friday or if his “friend” didn’t step in to restrain this guy, my wife would have been attacked. After watching him from afar on Saturday, this is a ticking time bomb waiting to happen. I’ve actually seen him before around the neighborhood once I saw him again on Saturday – it jogged my memory.


-6’2″, Maybe late 30s, early 40s in age
-About 140-150 lbs
-Fairly skinny but muscular
-Brown skinned; the vendor said he’s “Puerto Rican”
-Has a scraggly, short black beard
-Was wearing a black bandana and white tank top undershirt with several stains on it

2) The lack of concern and lack of professionalism on behalf of the police officers I encountered.

Of course I understand they are busy so I’ll excuse maybe the lack of response from my 911 call.

But the first officer on Friday provided awful advice and had little concern about what happened.

The 2 other officers on Saturday were not doing anything while just sitting in front of the Chipotle. With me alerting them to something, 2 blocks away, I would think that was in their jurisdiction to at least investigate. Instead, I felt like I was the the one they were more interested in “talking” to.

I’ve been in DC for 13 years. I’m not oblivious to the obvious things that plague this city and also come along with living in a neighborhood like Columbia Heights. Was this an urgent, serious issue on Saturday – I guess not. But I followed the advice of the officer from Friday and expected action to be taken when I called. Was this a serious, urgent issue on Friday? Absolutely. It was one of the most frightening things I’ve experienced in DC since I’ve lived here and honestly felt sick to my stomach that we didn’t catch him on Friday because I feared something terrible would happen to someone else that night.

But overall this was a pathetic display from our police department and overall it was very hard to stomach as a resident of the district. I love this neighborhood and feel only the citizens’ concern and diligence will help it improve. If this post helps people stay more aware of their surroundings and if they see this specific guy, cross the street and avoid him at all costs – then I’ll feel better.

I spoke with Josh Levine before I headed up on Saturday after the whole debacle ( and he also expressed concern that the police presence they used to have at the market when setting up in the morning and during the market hours has become non-existent. He told the vendor that if she saw him next Saturday to let him know. It was refreshing to hear fellow residents concerned for other residents especially vendors trying to make our neighborhood better!

Thanks for reading and stay safe.”

156 Comment

  • The police are useless in this town and the vast majority of officers have ZERO interest in proactive policing. They are all about responding to incidents after the fact – with “after the fact” meaning that someone is in serious medical condition and needs to go to the hospital.

    Let’s face, most MPD officers are there to keep their head down, be minimally hassled, and collect a paycheck. I’ve made multiple calls to 911 about getting a police report for an attempted vehicular theft and damage but they never showed up to my house. They are useless.

    • the police can be useless, but unfortunately, it’s legal. they only have to protect you if you have established a pre-existing relationship or in government. it’s no very well known, but the case warren vs. district of columbia ( established that the police do not have to protect individuals.

      i see everyone always complaining about the “lazy” or lackadaisical attitude of the police at times. unfortunately, they are well within their rights, and that goes even for jurisdictions outside of dc.

      now, feel free to get pissed about that.

      • Ugh, I feel gross just reading about that case. WTF.

      • I’m definitely pissed about that. I am also pissed that MPD would use such a case to continue to excuse negligent behavior. Maybe if they had been able to arrest the guy after the initial assault, they would have found he had priors and could have gotten him off the street. I guess the big takeaway here is always file a police report even if you are advised not to.

    • If the OP’s story is even half true , the police response was completely unacceptable . How so they expect to curb the crime in Columbia Heights if the cops are useless bystanders?

    • Generalizations are not productive and only serve to exacerbate the problems in question. It really sucks to put yourself on the front line every day — with most successes failing to make headlines — while the people you are trying to protect publicly ridicule you. I’m not sure I have the mettle to put myself between a bullet and a public slanderer.

      That said, there appear to be egregious errors in judgement and protocol from the OP’s account of the story. His description of the would-be attacker evokes images of this guy: AFTER the attacker bashed in a guy’s head in broad daylight with many bystanders, several people mentioned that they had noticed him in the past and thought he seemed unstable.

      It is for this reason that Cathy Lanier and Jim Graham must once again remind patrol officers of their duty to put aside any generalizations they may wish to make about the ungrateful, whiny, and naive residents they encounter daily so that they can effectively protect and serve District residents. Regardless of how many times officers perceive us to be crying wolf, reports such as the OP’s must be taken very seriously.

      • If you don’t want to deal with putting yourself on the frontline and being a public servant, then don’t take the job. No one is begging these guys to be cops.

        There are many people out there who would love to be a cop, work the overtime, and bring home a nice paycheck while only requiring a high school education. Unfortunately, those people don’t have an “in” on the force. There’s way more applicants than positions, hence why people are frustrated by apathetic cops sitting in their car all day, dicking around on their smartphones instead of proactively talking to neighbors, business owners, following up with crime victims, suspected criminals, etc. When cops belittle citizens over their concerns I think we are entitled to feel a bit of rage.

        Yeah, there’s plenty of good cops and they should get recognition when they make extraordinary efforts (monetary bonuses, public commendation, promotions). But there’s way more mediocre cops whose apathy does more harm than good.

        I’m not going to kiss your ass and call you a “hero” just because you graced us with your presence and showed up to work to do the bare minimum.

      • Can’t agree with you more about generalizations, including the one about losers in high school ending up as cops. Citizens should put aside these generalizations and remember that for every handful of incompetent ‘law enforcement officials’, there is a good chance that a competent one managed to get into the ‘force’. When it comes to getting between a bullet and a cynic, Darwinism still holds true.

    • Vast majority have zero interest in keeping our communities safe because they are not vested in these communities. Look at the license plates of the cars at any police station; more than half are from Maryland. Cops who don’t live in the district have scant interest in making this a safe and livable community, hence the ‘collect a paycheck’ mentality.

      • Come on, these guys need work or else they’ll be out of a job. Can’t blame them for wanting to keep themselves employable.

  • fuck the police. next time take his picture and for all means please POST!!!

  • Wow… I appreciate your posting. I am pretty good about trying to pay attention to my surroundings @ the neighborhood – no earphones, no chatting on the phone, firm grip on bag; but of course that won’t help much against the “crazies” or determined.

    I too have noticed less police on foot patrol, and that is something that should be automatic – especially when school is out/over the summer. The kids hanging around behind the Columbia Heights East side metro entrance/exit (by the remains of stolen bikes) aren’t always neighborly and there is more than one drunk on the benches around The Heights and the plaza area by the Frozen Yogurt place.

    Thanks for the description and I am glad you/your wife weren’t physically harmed.

  • Allison

    I’m so sorry this happened to you; I know a close run in can keep you rattled for days and sometimes weeks.

    As per the usual advice, send this story to your council member. This is also a good time for the PSA on pressuring the police to make a report, even when the advice is not to file a report.

    I’ve had three interactions with the police. Two were very responsive and positive, and one was questionable. The questionable one was the police officer posted at the 14th st CVS, so I’m not sure if there’s a pattern that the retail-posted cops just don’t seem to care, or what. When a uniformed officer is posted at a retailer, are they “off duty” and being paid by the retailer, or are they on duty? (In previous places I’ve lived, you could hire an off-duty uniformed cop for private enforcement for certain reasons.)

  • Scrillin

    I guess the police are only there to stop murders in SE.

  • All three of those officers should be fired or suspended. I’d contact Cathy Lanier and Jim Graham. That is some of the biggest load of BULL I’ve heard in a long time.

  • I saw that guy he’s trying to intimdate me when I was walking up 14th street.

    • I know exactly who you are referring to. I’ve seen him all up and down 14th street from Park to Spring. He also frequents the church steps on Otis. He was gone for a while but I noticed last week that he’s back. A year or two ago he hit my dog outside of Sticky Fingers. Several times I’ve seen him approach random people looking to fight. Whenever I see him I cross the street. He is crazy and dangerous.

      • Man…if some dude hit my dog, I’d lose it on him. Crazy or no, my dog is family…and you don’t [email protected] w/ my family. Of course, my dog would probably lose it on him too. She’s so mild mannered most of the time and not a trained protection dog, but has stepped between me and some shady characters more than a few times and growled like a boss. I had one guy yelling at me constantly while walking towards us one night after I told him that he wasn’t going to smoke stuff in the alley next to my house. She just watched and watched till he was less than 10 feet away and then lunged at him, teeth bared. Coolest thing I’ve ever seen. Dude backed right off.

      • HIT your dog???? Wow, I really hope you reported the guy. That is just insane. Of course, if he did that to my dog he wouldn’t have an arm left because she is very fear aggressive, and also very large.

    • Me too– I know exactly who you’re talking about. I saw him just last week loitering outside the AA center on 14th near Spring. He was standing in the middle of the sidewalk, harassing and intimidating every passerby. It was scary to watch.

      Next time I see him, I’m calling 911 as should we all. If we flood 911 with calls about this creep, someone will eventually do something… Right?

  • Ever sat on a grand jury in DC? You see lots of incidents where police respond a day later when someone had a gun pulled on them or there was violence involved. Not unusual at all. Too busy talking on their cell phones whilst driving like a teenager with the seat reclined far back.

  • just say he pulled a gun on you

    also there is a number you can call and someone will come for a mental examination. you can try getting them to come out.

  • gotryit

    I’ve had some really good experiences with some DC police officers and detectives, but BS like these responses is unacceptable. Lanier needs to make a serious change from a focus on numbers because of a-holes who try to game the system like this.

  • Okay, to be fair to MPD, my experiences have been good. When I got robbed a couple of years go they were there really fast and the detective followed up with me afterward. But, sounds like this experience was quite bad.

    I’ve seen this guy around CH a lot lately and he has harassed one of my friends regularly. I really hope that the police pay more attention to him before something really bad happens.

    • Allison

      My good experience with the police was in a no-force-or-theft-actually-occurred situation similar to the OP’s. I was menaced by a guy who I felt was following me closely enough to be a mugging waiting to happen (stupidly, my laptop was visible peeking out of the very top of my bag) so I called the cops once I was safely home (about 5 mins later.) The cop showed up right away and offered to drive me around the neighborhood and point the guy out despite nothing having actually happened to me. I declined because I wasn’t certain I would identify the correct person (I am well aware of eye witness weakness, including my own) and I didn’t want to point out the wrong person. Anyway, the cop gave me his personal card with his own phone number and told me to call him if I saw the guy again. Was a great experience. The cop was older, and seemed like he had been on the force for a while.

  • As a 6’2” man who weighs 155 I can assure you that a 6’2” man who weighs 140-150 is not muscular. I am approaching emaciated myself.

    • Fair enough, but there a couple of possibilities. 1) the OP is not great at eyeballing someone’s weight (not a criticism, as it can be tricky to the untrained eye, and I wouldn’t be very good at it, either); or 2) the suspect could be extremely thin, yet strong-looking. Think of elite marathoners, who are nearly emaciated themselves, but what they do have on them is almost all lean, ropy muscle.

      • As the OP, I think you hit the nail on the head. Think more of a marathoner type build. The guy is has muscle definition and appears to be in relatively good shape but is still fairly tall and skinny.

    • Meth heads will rip you to shreds. Sometimes intensity can do a lot more damage than brute strength.

      See: the Miami face eater.

  • I only take issue with the notion that the police responsiveness in DC is always anything. I had two men try to break into my house once while I was home and I called the police and they sent a calvary of officers there in just a couple of minutes. They were all quite serious and professional.

    Maybe at the end of the day, they understand the system better than you do and know there isn’t a lot they can do to help you. If you don’t file a report for being assaulted, they can’t just go hassle people on the street. Nor should they. I’m not excusing any perceived laziness on their part of bad attitudes. That’s inexcusable. But at the end of the day, there is only so much that gets done with mentally unhinged people on the street and that isn’t necessarily the fault of the police.

  • Thanks for posting this and I hope others learn to ignore cops when they encourage you not to report incidents. These three should be disciplined for sure.

  • Ugh I guess I’ve just gotten semi immune to all the sketchy people in the area, but I’m really sad that the police were not more helpful. Even if he realistically couldn’t do anything — and I’m not sure that’s true — there is no acceptable reason not to take a report. Unfortunately, I’ve had similar interactions with police personnel outside of DC though fortunately I’ve never needed to talk to an officer here.

    What the heck are undercover Giant staff by the way?!

    • I’m guessing maybe plainclothes people from a private security company, hired to monitor for theft?

      • It’s impossible to walk around that Giant without seeing things being stolen. I’m amazed they’re able to operate the store at a profit given all the theft.

  • I’ve had way too many experiences with DC police similar to this one where DC police are completely useless. One of my favs is a few years ago when there was a huge brawl in Adams Morgan. I went to tell one of the cops working 18th street who was standing about 40-50 feet away with her back to the action. She said to me without even turning her head “If I don’t see it, it ain’t happening”. That’s pretty much sums up DC cops’ attitude.

  • DC Code § 22-404 defines basic assault as “threaten[ing] another in a menacing manner.” It is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine or jail time, and it’s similar to the law in most jurisdictions. There was absolutely cause for the first cop to take action when you reported what had happened, even if the guy never touched you. The police response to the situation is just terrible all around.

    I’d definitely suggest reporting this to the head of your MPD district and/or Cathy Lanier.

  • TLDR, next time take pics of the harassment while you’re stalking him and post them online.

    Also, there’s nothing any cop would ever do about a guy running at you and yelling. That’s totally legal behavior.

  • Just a grammar nit here–should be “…on me and my wife,” not “my wife and I.” Sorry, just a major pet peeve as an editor.

      • In fairness to anon 3:31 p.m., I had to try really hard to stop myself from posting about the “my wife and I” thing too.

        The reason it’s “my wife and me” and not “my wife and I” is because “me” is the object, not the subject. “I” is correct in “My wife and I went to Columbia Heights,” but “me” is the correct option in “A guy came running at my wife and me” or “attempted assault on my wife and me.”

    • I think you meant, “on my wife and me.”

      • Emmaleigh504

        People on the internet really need to stop correcting grammar and spelling because 9 times out of 10 they make a mistake in their correction post. Also it’s annoying.

      • Actually, the order of “me and my wife” or “my wife and me” is immaterial as long as these are objects, whether direct, indirect, or prepositional.

        In contrast, many writers insist on placing “I” at the end of a compound subject; thus, “my wife and I [did such-and such]”, not *”I and my wife [did such-and-such]”.

    • congratulations! you are the douche of the day!!

    • You were that pedantic kid in high school, right? The one who always had to argue with the teacher on the most inanely specific points? Go back to Reddit.

  • If I had a nickel for everytime someone charged me in Columbia Heights…well, check out my name.

    Dude was probably just trying to scare you. This ain’t Dupont.

    • “This ain’t Dupont.”
      Funny that you should put it that way- last year, a similar-sounding guy charged at me and my girlfriend outside our Dupont apartment. He then followed us into our building as someone else was exiting and grabbed my girlfriend on the stairs. So, yeah, this shit seems to happen everywhere.

      • “So, yeah, this shit seems to happen everywhere”

        Not really.

        • Some weird dude (intoxicated) once followed me home (and continued following me even after I made a sharp turn the opposite direction by jaywalking across the street) and I had to call the police. That was in Dupont.

    • I would only have like 15 cents, but even that is too much.

  • Just based on the comments above I would say that this particular individual will continue harassing pedestrians and that future situations [and you know there will be] will end with someone hurt. I am sure someone with MPD reads this blog/will be notified about this blog – I encourage you to act on this information. We are SEEING something and SAYING something…. please DO something.

  • Please send this entire email to Jim Graham and Cathy Lanier. This is totally unacceptable. We have a cop who parks at the intersection by our house almost every day. At first I appreciated the police presence but now realize its just a place for them to be out of the way and playing on their phones etc without being bothered. God knows the loitering and drama has not lessoned on the corner. There are some really decent officers and its unfortunate that they are dragged down by the dead weight who can never ever be fired.

  • Sounds like this guy was on the pot.

    • probably more like the crack rock. Why you trying to give weed a bad rep?

    • Guy would have gone running at him with his arms open as to HUG him if he was on Pot, not like he was going to MUG him.

    • Pot? You’d be surprised to learn of the District’s PCP renaissance. At my hospital, we’ve had patients escape from 4-point leather restraints and pull tubes from their bladder without flinching while under its influence. My guess is he was jacked on a lovely combination of alcohol and a stimulant or dissociative agent and/or mentally ill.

      • i’ve noticed some VERY strung out people lately. pcp makes a lot of sense and is really terrifying. reactions to perps on pcp is how dc mpd got such a brutal reputation.

  • Thanks for writing this up. Sorry for the maltreatment on both ends of the encounter.

  • He sounds like he may have a mental health diagnosis based on the accounts of bizarre behavior. You could try insisting to the officers that he is mentally ill, aggressive, dangerous to himself and others, and needs to be FD-12’d to CPEP for evaluation. You could also try calling Department of Mental Health mobile crisis line (202673-9300) and saying he needs to be evaluated. This may or may not work, but that is another way you could try to get this guy to stop menacing people.

  • This sounds similar to a few of the men who often knock on car windows along Park Rd between 15th and 16th. It’s pretty scary as a single woman, particularly if I’m stopped at the light without any clear exit strategy. This morning, there were no fewer than 3 police cars at that very intersection — all with police officers inside — and yet there continued to be a group of men either drunk, or high, or both, knocking on car windows. Come ON.

    On a side note, and maybe this is unfair given the disproportionate amount of male police officers, but I have had nothing but good experiences dealing with female officers here in DC.

    • ALWAYS leave enough space to maneuver when you’re stopping at an intersection. I usually keep a car length (or a half length at minimum). The more likely scenario is that someone behind you doesn’t see a row of parked cars and hits you from behind. You can lessen the impact or avoid it entirely by pulling forward quickly (or around or past other stopped vehicles). Don’t give in to the asshat behind you that honks and motions for you to pull forward. In the rare case where someone tries to hijack your car or assault you, it gives you space to accelerate quickly and escape or drive into them to incapacitate.

    • I had someone on Park and between 15th and 16th do this to me as well. He got my door open, but I slammed it shut before he could get his hands in. Once I slammed my door, he walked on and the light changed colors so I zipped out of there, but my heart was in my throat until I turned off into Rock Creek Park >_<

      • Please, always, always, always lock your car doors from the minute you get in car until you’re getting out.

  • How is this behavior acceptable? I wish that I could say my experience with the police was different, but I have witnessed the same behavior. Disinterested, lack of caring and an attitude like citizens asking for help are a pain in the ass. How many crimes go unsolved? I feel like they never catch the perpetrators and continue to turn a blind eye towards problem houses. Police have a sacred duty to project the public. It’s not just to collect a pay check. Shameful.

    Mayor Gray, Jim Graham, & Muriel Bowser: What are you doing to help us???

    • You can’t expect the police to do something every time you get scared like this guy.

      • See 3:22 post abt DC law. It’s a crime. And yes, I can expect them to do something every time a crime in progress (or just occurred) is reported. That’s pretty much the definition of their job.

      • Ummm…. Then what are they getting paid for? That is EXACTLY what I expect!

  • I actually know exactly who this guy is. He is a local drunk and indeed is from PR. He tried a very similar thing with me but once i started speaking to him in Spanish and he found out i was Hispanic he stopped his foolishness. With that said, if you hang around Colombia heights you are bound to see him agian as he mostly seems to wander between the church on park and in-front of the giant. I would bet dollars to donuts that you were targeted because you were white.


    • OP here:

      He went after my wife actually. I was his second target once I put myself in between her and me but he never really took his eyes off of her. She is hispanic FWIW.

    • I know exactly who it is too.

  • Thanks for the description. I’ve seen him and if he so much as takes a step towards me on 14th ST I might have to follow the advice of the officer who suggested fighting back, he will get a quick lesson from a brazilian jiujitsu black belt.

    • I can already see the headline: “roided out bro-champ beats up defenseless homeless man to portray his views about immigration” You’re a lawyer’s wet dream.

    • we’ve got an internet tough guy here.

      • LOL

        “Yo man, I’ve been doing MMA for, like, 18 months now. You best back up before I have to use my training on you. Don’t step to me, bro! Don’t step to me! Respect my space, bro!”

        *proceeds to take off shirt*

    • >he will get a quick lesson from a brazilian jiujitsu black belt.

      top lel

    • I’m not buying your story. I’ve met several jiu-jitsu black belts, and they have the maturity and street smarts to stay out of an avoidable fight. Ever consider how you’d react if you got knifed in the gut? Would you still consider that a “win”?

      • Eh, mentioned that guy before tried to start something as i was walking down Park. Rd. Here’s the point he was clearly mean mugging acting hard in the middle i gave him some space and even rolled my shoulder back not to make contact. But if I wanted lean in extra to make contact I wouldn’t back down to him. Its simply called standing your ground rolling my shoulder totally probably avoided a violent encounter but if he wanted to lean and make contact I have every right to stand up for myself. The other point is by simpling rolling my shoulder back I avoided any escalation. I’ve sized that guy up, he is just mentally disturbed he needs to be evaluated and taken into custody.

  • Cops can’t even get kids to stop loitering by the Columbia Heights Metro. They stand around, deal drugs, smoke pot, write “Garfield Terrace,” on the walls, and still nothing gets done. Residents from the senior center next door must call constantly, and I know I’m not the only resident to complain to the police. If cops won’t stop kids from harrassing people commuting in the morning then don’t hold too much hope that this menacing figure will be picked up until there’s blood on the sidewalks of 14th St. NW again. Truly a sad state of affairs.

  • If a big puerto-rican guy sprints at you and your wife, wind back, throw a haymaker at him and lay him out. That way: he learns his lesson and you don’t look like a giant puss in front of your wife.

  • DC cops = zombies

  • If the author of the letter is reading this he should consider making a lot of noise on social media and in other public spaces because that’s what seems to kick the MPD to take action. I had my wallet stolen at that Giant and found that the police department was useless. Back when I owned a car it was broken into a few times and the police response was discouraging.

    I’m sure reports can be useful but I’ve never personally experienced any good coming from them. It’s crazy, I see patrols ALL OVER CoHi but so little is done. Still though, better than 10-15 years ago when police were afraid to go to CoHi because it was an open air drug, prostitution and gun market ruled by the gangs.

  • My concrete suggestion is to locate the Yahoogroups listserve for this PSA and post this report there. Usually the head officers for each PSA monitor the postings or have someone monitor on their behalf. It seems like the police should already know about this guy, but maybe someone needs to light a fire under the actual patrol officers to do something about it.

  • This is the kind of stuff that we can not allow in our community. Lucky for us we now have other tools available at our disposal to bring attention to these kind of issues.

    Do me a favor, DC homie, get on Twitter and retweet this link with a comment on how does this make you feel and include the following tweeter handles: @DCPoliceDept, @mayorvincegray, @postlocal, @wusa9 . If you can think of others please include them as well.

    It does make a difference. I’ve seen it before.

  • The Third District Commander is Jacob Kishter, and you should email him this directly. I Live in 1D and am on the MPD listserve for crime reports etc. for my District and the Commander and the other few officers who maintain the listserve are incredibly responsive when constituents share specific information like this – they filter it down and get back to you with a response. Give it a try! And thank you for going above and beyond with civic duty and sharing.
    Email: [email protected]
    Phone: (202) 673-6820

  • I have seen the police officer in Giant DOING THE MOONWALK while wearing a ridiculous furry hat! NO JOKE.

    I once also saw a bike locked to a tree in front of IHOP while there was a cop car with officers in it parked in front (illegally of course). When I walked past it a little later, most of the bike parts had been stolen and the cops were still sitting there in the same spot. RIDICULOUS.

    Thanks so much for sharing this story. I’m so sorry to hear that no one was of help to you.

  • Jim Graham. Jim Graham is the problem. As any police officer. They all agree.

    He vacations in Central America doing only God knows what. And that is his model for Columbia Heights.

    Only we, the voters, are to blame.

  • I have had a few encounters with this guy before. I’m racially ambigious and he has not treated me with hostility (especially since I can speak spanish). My impression is that he is homeless and mentally ill. The police obviously need to do something about his behavior but it is clear he needs connections to clinical services.

  • I am sad to say that this experience didn’t surprise me, especially in this jurisdiction of DC. I have lived here for 14 years and I am sad to say that many of the police in this town have taken the same road as many other employees in this area–‘why should I care? I’m not getting paid more to prevent bad things from happening. I’ll just deal with them as they come.’ However, this jurisdiction is especially bad. Every experience we have had with police in the Columbia Heights area has been awful. I regularly see them driving around, talking on their cell phones and without a hands free device. I even know someone who was pulled for distracted driving (changing the radio station) by a cop in this area who was talking on the phone when he pulled my friend. I can go on and on… about the entrapment in this area for DUIs, the profanity laden tirade an officer decided to have on a friend because he was simply looking for something in his car–topped off with being called a fag and harrassed until another officer showed and told him to leave the guy alone. Why were none of these things reported? Because every single person was afraid of being singled out by the police in their off hours. Each incident involved a nasty, angry police officer who did not seem interested in helping. This is really a shame, and for the person who posted this trail of events, I am so glad someone is speaking out. I realize there is good and bad everywhere, but when you accept a job as a public servant, it is your responsibility to serve the public. It’s the same for customer service employees–if you don’t like working with the public, you are not in the right field. I hope this results in some changes and attention to police behavior in this area. Perhaps they move officers around from precinct to precinct as a system of checks and balances? Monitor how crime changes when new officers are in a specific area and see if that is any reflection of the officers on the beat? When your own law abiding constituents are AFRAID to report POLICE conduct and don’t even trust the officers who are there to provide safety, there is a much larger problem

  • Any police officer worth their weight in salt who wasn’t busy should go investigate this problem. That is an example of technically doing your job but doing the bare minimum. Complaints against police like that should be taken seriously, but I’m afraid they probably aren’t.

  • Thanks for the comprehensive and thoughtful account of what happened to you and your wife. I’m glad that neither of you were injured. Please don’t listen to people who encourage you to let the matter go. It sounds like this man is menacing the entire community in that area. I especially feel badly for the lady selling fruit. It sounds like she does not have the resources to protect her livelihood, and maybe her son, from this creep.

    Having talked with a few officers last year, it seems there is a perception among some officers that people choose to live in an area with crime, should not be surprised when crime happens, and therefore police response does not need to be urgent. As if people living in certain areas are less deserving of police protection. But, we need to remind police and the council that we expect a responsive police force, and expect accountability when police do not fulfill their duties.

    To echo some other commentors, I agree that you should run this up the chain of command to the MPD Commanders, the ANC, and the councilmember. I took a look at the districts and police service areas and it looks like the problem area is on the border between Third District and Fourth District. (Maybe PSAs 302 and 409?) I recommend emailing your councilmember, Commander Missouri (4D) and Commander Kishter (3D). I’m on the 4D listserv and have found Commander Missouri to be very responsive. You may also want to post this to the Third District and Fourth District listservs.

    Not that this is a good excuse, but the incident is close to the border between 3D and 4D. I am wondering whether one district could think that the other will respond to your 911 call, and when neither responds, it falls through the cracks?

    Anyway, I hope you update us on what happens. It’s not a major assault (thank goodness), but it is a serious quality-of-life issue.

  • All we can do is spread the word- I posted on my Petworth list serve which MPD reads and usually responds to, so hopefully they will step up their game and start doing their jobs.

  • Sounds like the guy my husband had a run-in with a few years ago. The guy lunged at our toddler in front of the Giant, and my husband responded instinctively, pinning him to the wall by the neck. Dude starting crying and saying “don’t hurt me, please don’t hurt me”. My husband realized then he was mentally ill, and felt bad, but it was very much a papa bear moment. He encountered the same guy again less than a week later, begging somewhat aggressively, and he showed no signs of recognition.

  • Come on folks, we have hundreds of juvenile gun slingers and you are freaking out about one guy who clearly has a mental issue. Call the Department of Health, there is practically nothing MPD can do.

    • If the people that got ATTACK, ’cause this wasn’t a simple exchange of words, were your sister or your mother would you be so nonchalant about the entire story.

      We are a community and we look after each other, specially when the police, who should be there to protect us and the law aren’t doing their job.

    • A few years ago, a guy on Hobart – mentally ill – killed a woman with a brick.

      If he’s attacking he’s passed singing/talking to himself mode. He needs to be dealt with. I wish wall guy would have choked him. Attacking a toddler should get one killed.

  • Thanks for all the information, including the description and the warning about the disinterested police force. These situations are indeed frustrating. An apparently homeless guy spit on a co-worker last week outside our downtown office building and shouted some nasty language at her. She reported him to both the building security guards and the DC police. The same guy approached me nearby a few days later seeking money. He’s still loitering about. We’re concerned he’s mentally unstable and a more physical attack than simply spitting (which is an actual assault, I went to law school) may result in the future. But while the building security people purportedly showed some concern, the DC cops did not take much interest in the case. They probably won’t unless he beats up or kills someone. Sad, sad, sad. Meanwhile the list of folks to look out for is growing. Mental illness is a tough issue, as is homelessness, and they often go hand in hand. More dangerous is when there’s physical aggression involved, and hearing voices. Not sure what can be done other than to do as the author of the post did and share expreiences with the community.

  • I’ve seen this guy downtown, he fits the description perfectly. I was raised in DC and I consider myself pretty street savvy, I cross the street when I see this dude. I suspect mental illness one of the reasons the police didn’t intervene (they KNEW who he is). In their minds it is too hot to deal with a crazy dude. They would actually have to put on their blue gloves. If I were the manager of any of those restaurants/retail establishments, he would be gone. How can you sit by and let a dude harass your customers. If I were coming from D’Vines and have to run with a six pack, I don’t think I could run without throwing a bottle or two…. Maybe this is why crime is down in the District, unresponsive officers….

  • If this hasn’t already been said, you should definitely let your council person know your story. Maybe there is something they can do to help.

  • I am really bothered by the police officers following the complainant after he asked for the officers’ names and wanting his name. Is there a good reason for that (given they weren’t willing to take a report or anything) for this, or was it just intimidation?
    (Obviously the whole incident is distrubing.)

  • This is very disturbing. I had a much less important, but similar, experience with the police some months ago.

    My car was parked on the street and a hit-and-run driver ripped off the entire front bumper, causing $1,000 worth of damage. After a helpful conversation with my insurance company, I called 311 asked for an officer to come over and take a look so I could file a police report. (Because the driver didn’t leave a note, I was able to get some of my deductible covered by a District fund that exists for exact such incidents, but only if I had a police report. Who knew?!) I made it clear to the dispatcher that my request was not an emergency, but I was taken aback by her manner. She kept cutting me off when I tried to describe my location. Then she called me back and yelled at me for not giving her the right address. I stood on the street for an hour, waiting for an officer to come by, despite her repeated assurances that someone was just around the corner. (I was fine waiting, as I said, it was not an emergency. But I did have a problem being told off and lectured about staying by my car when I was standing there getting eaten alive by bugs for an hour.)

    When the officer finally arrived, he was brusque and, when I thanked him and apologized for taking up his time on something that wasn’t pressing, I got another lecture. I said something like, “I wasn’t going to bother you, but the damage is pretty extensive so I want a record and the insurance company said it would be helpful.” His response: “I don’t work for your insurance company. If I’d know it was only for that, I wouldn’t have come out.”

    Sorry officer, you don’t get a choice on which crimes you fill out reports for. Yes, thankfully it was an accident involving only one car, no one was hurt and no traffic was blocked. But it was a crime and as a tax paying resident of this city, I had a right to file a police report. I didn’t report this at the time because it was related to a minor incident and I didn’t feel like the hassle. Now I wish I had.

    These people were in danger and the police did nothing, even though they were in the area. What a horrible failure of the MPD. I hope they address it – next time the person targeted by this (or any other disturbed and disruptive) person, may not be lucky enough to escape unharmed.

  • Thank you Prince of Petworth for drawing attention to this matter. You do us all a great service in helping to make our community safer.

  • It sounds like a lot of people have had run-ins with the same guy, which begs the question why the hell is he still on the street? Why does our legal system see fit to wait till someone is severely injured or dead to act? Sure you can’t go around harassing innocent citizens, but if someone is habitually threatening people and stealing, why are they allowed to continue until they actually harm someone? It’s so backwards.

    • I know who this is, too! His name is Melvin. He is awful. My neighbors and I have called the cops on him soooo many times in the last two years I’ve lived in this neighborhood. They do NOTHING. Except for once when he was on the ground bleeding out. Then they came. We actually sighed a relief, thinking he would be gone for a long time. But, no, they stitched him up and he was back in our neighborhood the very next day- bandages and all. The cops here know exactly who he is. I almost feel like they are completely lacking any empathy for us Columbia Heights residents. Allowing harassment to happen when you are a police officer (or civilian) is just as bad as harassing someone yourself. The only thing you can do is stand up for yourself. No officer is going to save you in Columbia Heights. A guy once tried to punch me in front of the PNC. He missed, but I’m a woman and he was a huge man. I’ve come to believe 100% that it is up to us as citizens and neighbors to stand up for ourselves, our children, and our community. Let’s post pictures of him around town and warn people to stay away or yell at him. Let’s run him out of town.

      • Allison

        I’m not sure that solution will be effective for someone who it seems has a pervasive mental illness.

        • I’m just throwing out ideas– not meant to be a solid plan of action, obviously. Any constructive comments/ideas are greatly appreciated.

  • mtpgal

    I’m late seeing this post, but this same man came up to me on Park between Hiatt and 16th about two weeks ago. I was boxed in with cars on one side and the Church’s metal fence on the other. The terrifying part was that I had my infant daughter with me in a stroller and I couldn’t physically get off the sidewalk. Thankfully, I was able to inch by, but I had a feeling something horrible could have happened and this post has confirmed it.

  • saf

    According to a post on the 4D listserve at 8:30 tonight from Commander MIssouri, “This matter is being investigated by Third District Commander Kishter. “

    • Hopefully he sees all these comments and the sheer number of people who have had run ins with this guy. I too have been freaked out by this guy at Hiatt and Park. Time to get this man off the streets and into a mental institution

  • I am the GM of pollo Campero, I called 911 about the same guy. He went inside the Restaurant ang got the food from my custumer. The police came to the Restaurant i gave them his discription. He is very intimidating.

    If you want to follow i will be happy to help you.

  • MPD, please respond to this post and let us know what you are going to do to improve the response and interest of your officers in keeping citizens safe.

  • FWIW, you can also file a police report online.

    When I’ve done this, MPD has responded (somewhat) quickly.

  • I think it’s telling that many people know who this is, and many of those people say they go well out of their way to avoid being on the same side of the street. Usually when you become familiar with the neighborhood characters they seem less, not more threatening.

  • Thank you so much for sharing and I’m sorry about what happened. I do want to reiterate what some others have said about contacting your Councilmember. CM Graham is very responsive. Regardless of whether you love him or hate him, he can get things done when he thinks it’s important. I went to him recently about a neighborhood issue and he sat down with me for 30 minutes to give me advice. A friend of mine had trouble with the police and contacted him and he got her some justice. I can’t stress enough that you would be doing us all of service if you keep fighting to get attention to this issue. Thank you!

  • justinbc

    I think it’s a bit unfair to assume the police have “done nothing” regarding this individual. Many times homeless and/or mentally ill people like this are locked up, often just overnight, but then jail space becomes tight and they have to release them since it’s all just petty crime (running at you in an angry way is not equivalent to say shooting someone). You don’t sit there every day watching this guy, so you have no idea really whether he’s been locked up once, twice, or repeatedly. The bigger issue here is the treatment by the police force towards you, not the man himself. If anything, that’s what you need to pursue, because unfortunately there’s really nothing that can be done about individuals like suspect in question. Of course, ultimately the real major issue at question is how mental disabilities are treated and handled in this country, but that discussion is better handled elsewhere.

  • It is alarming to hear that this occurred and of the lack of responsiveness.

    Has anyone contacted local mental health outreach groups? I know that there are outreach workers all over this city to meet the needs of different people. During hypothermia season for example, you can call a hotline and they will drive out and connect people living outdoors with emergency shelter. I believe this exists for people needing case management and counseling as well. They might be more sympathetic to your justified concerns, and since you seem to have given the police their chance to address the issue, maybe someone else might be able to help.

    I fear that putting someone in jail (where mental health is not typically a priority) that meets this description would just take him off of the street temporarily, serving as a band-aid on a gaping wound, which sounds like a mental health condition.

    …just a thought

  • The conduct described here is clearly an assault, and is plainly both a violent, unlawful, and criminal, regardless of whether the person actually hit you. I read your update, and I’m happy to hear that MPD is paying more attention to this case, but until the police officer at Giant is severely punished for his failure to promptly respond to your initial report, I don’t think we as a community should feel safe. MPD is not stationed at Giant to provide private security services to a commercial enterprise–they are supposed to be patroling and protecting the population. This officer’s failure to promptly respond to your report of an assault is deeply troubling.

    • OP here: As best I understood based on my conversations yesterday, the office in Giant seemed to be paid by Giant to be stationed inside. Meaning, he wasn’t a normal on-duty officer patrolling inside the Giant but actually being paid for by Giant to patrol specifically Giant. I’m sure if you called District 3 and 4 they can give you more information how things like this work. I didn’t press that issue last night.

      • Scrillin

        Then they need to take off their MPD uniform and put on a Security Guard uniform.

      • Thanks for the response, OP. I didn’t see anything in your post about who was paying the officer. BUT, I think one of the many policy re-evaluations that needs to come out of your awful experience has to be re-thinking how a private entity can “hire” a uniformed police officer. A police officer’s uniform is a representation to the public and the taxpayer that the officer is an on-duty official performing a vital public service. If he’s being “rented” out for private security services, even if MPD is getting some additional income, the taxpayer is not getting the benefit of the uniform and can be fooled into a false and possibly dangerous sense of false security.

        Imagine a taxpayer like you, who is confronted by danger, and who is in between 2 uniformed officers, one of whom was working for Giant and therefore felt no duty to you, and the other who was on-duty. You could be harmed by running to the wrong officer, who may feel he has a greater duty to check for shoplifters then to aid an assaulted citizen.

  • This entire account just baffles me.

  • Sorry to hear what happened to you and others. Sadly, DC MPD is really no interested in pursuing a lead unless there were gun play or a major assault that happened. I’ve called MPD a couple of times and was even told there was no point in filing a police report if there wasn’t an assault; however, the circumstances were borderline criminal and the least I would expect is the a dispatched unit to at least come and talk to me and who I considered to be a suspect. Sadly…DC MPD is hiding statistics. Look at the Titan of Trinidad blog that recently shed light on it.

  • Rotten and awful on all accounts, but thanks for posting. I live on that block and knew immediately who you were talking about. I have also felt intimidated by this man, and will keep crossing the street if I see him. Pray nothing worse will happen and he would just go away.

  • Contact the Washington Post…Colbert King in particular. This is my n-hood and I’ll be on the lookout for this guy.

    MPD is utterly fucking useless. They didn’t show up when a guy tried to set fire to my building.

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