Metro Station Manager Says She Can’t Help because “we would both get murdered”

Photo by PoPville reader EW

“Dear PoPville,

I was riding the Red line Friday evening at about 4:30 PM. Between Dupont and Farragut North, a boozy smelling man sat next to me. He kept creeping closer and closer and eventually touched my thigh under a jacket in his lap. I immediately jumped up and started screaming. I asked some of the passengers what I should do and they just told me to call security. I got off at Farragut North and so did the perp. I ran to the station manager to report it since he was still loitering around on the platform, and was told that she couldn’t do anything to help and that if she went down to the platform with me “we would both get murdered”. So much for those “zero tolerance” ads…

I have two questions- wondering if anyone else was a victim this evening (suspect is heavy set Latino male in his 40s, wearing a hat, sunglasses, a white T-shirt and carrying a green jacket). Also wondering what the formal process is for filing a complaint with metro- I would like this incident documented and would like to report the station manager as well.”

70 Comment

  • um, why did you not call the police?

    • I think you meant to say “Why did the station manager not call Metro Transit Police after she reported a crime?” as WMATA has said in past anti-groping campaigns that you should contact the station manager for assistance.

      Unless you actually meant to blame the victim, in which case you are a huge asshole.

      • “Oh F off.” +1

      • Ummm chill. It would still have been intelligent to call the police, once she received no help from the station manager. Obviously the station manager should have contacted the police for her, but since they didn’t, it would of been appropriate to report the crime to the police.

        Telling a victim the appropriate steps to take in reporting her crime is not blaming the victim.

  • formal process? Why didn’t you call 911?

    • maybe her fucking cellphone didn’t work down in the tunnels. or maybe – crazy idea here – she thought that metro would help her since metro transit police ARE POLICE.

      • But they didn’t help her. So if she had a cell phone it would have been prudent to call the police and report the crime.

        She’s obviously not to blame here but neither are the people who recommend that she call police. Calm down.

  • I had an incident happen to me last year and I was too flustered/disgusted to contact the transit police immediately, though later I desperately wished I had. But I reported it to this website a few days later and got an immediate and thorough response (with follow ups).

  • Wow, that’s awful. In the future, keep the metro transit police phone number in your phone. I can understand an individual not having that number, but how does a station manager not have that number?

  • 1) You should call Metro Transit Police or just regular old 911 in cases like this. 2) While the station manager should have suggested that to you or done it herself, station managers are not there to take criminal reports or to confront alleged criminals; they are not police or security.

  • I’m very sorry that this happened to you.

    It’s unfortunate, but by now, we should all be aware that sometimes going to a station manager for help is not going to work.

    Everyone stop what you’re doing right now, and put this number into your contacts on your phone:

    Metro Transit Police: 202-962-2121

    Call it immediately when you need help. (Note: Calling 911 will take longer as they’ll direct you to contact MTP, but I suppose if all else fails you could try that too.)

    • I do, in fact, have 202-962-2121 on speed dial. I used it one time when an older lady fell down an escalator behind me at L’Enfant and was hurt bad, and the emergency call box was broken. The woman who answered seemed both bored and annoyed that I’d called, and chastised me for a) not using the call box, then b) not calling 911. So sorry to waste her valuable time!
      It’ll be 911 first and always from here on out.

      • Ugh. Sounds like that dispatcher deserved to get reported to whoever handles calls for MTPD. (I guess it’s some Metro-specific call center, not the D.C. Office of Communications (OUC), which handles 311 and 911 calls?)

    • In the phone now. Thanks.

    • Thanks for your PSA. I actually stopped what I was doing and put the number in my phone b/c, for some inexcusable reason, I did not have it saved. So, your comment helped at least one person!

  • You should have gone to the station manager and told them to call metro transit police or the real police. If he or she refused, you should have made the call yourself, and you should have reported the employee’s failings. It would also have been wise to take a photo of the alleged offender with your phone or ask another passenger to do so. I’m disappointed that a passenger did not offer to go with you to call the police and act as a witness, if you were on your own.

    • Metro Transit Police is the “real police” for the metro system.

    • I agree–especially about someone helping an unaccompanied woman who was being followed–but I think circumstances dictate the photo. If she’s alone with him and he knows she took a photo, that could escalate things.

    • lol at your naive belief that anyone cares about the “station manager”‘s failure to be competent.

  • I have also learned the hard way that you have to call the Metro Transit Police directly.

  • Metro will probably give the station manager a reward for exemplary customer service.

    Hope you took the manager’s name and made a report. Maybe the next time this happens the assaulted customer will be treated correctly.

  • When i had my phone and purse snatched a few years ago at the Cleveland Park stop and proceeded to chase the two kids up the escalators screaming at the top of my lungs for help and for someone to help stop them, and then watched the kids jump the metro gates while two station attendees stood there – I found out that station attendees and metro police/security don’t have to put themselves in harms way. When I asked them why they didn’t stop the kids, both the station attendant and metro security said they didn’t have to. Also they “didn’t know what was going on” and didn’t want to get involved….

    • What does the fact that they’re minorities have anything at all to do with it?

    • I was just pointing out how absurd his/her comment was. I don’t disagree with your assertion that they should be protecting us since they are being fairly compensated for their willingness to expose themselves to risk. But I would never expect anyone to risk their safety for my cell phone if they were only making minimum wage (with presumably no benefits if something were to happen).

      • if you think metro station “managers” are making minimum wage you haven’t been following the gravy train of patronage jobs that metro offers.

  • Call Metro Police and Metro cutomer service to report the station manager. I had a similar experience at Archives. I reported a crime to the station manager and he completely brushed it off. I called both the metro police and customer service who seemed to take it seriously. I haven’t seen that station manager at Archives again.

  • I’m sorry this happened to you. I’ll echo an earlier commenter that there are several routes you can take to report this. First, WMATA has an online reporting portal specifically for sexual harassment. You can include your contact information, or you can make the report anonymously. WMATA tracks this data to help identify “hot spots,” in addition to following up on individual incidents: You can also call Metro Transit Police to make a report. If you provide the station, date, and time, hopefully they will follow up with that employee for neglecting her duties and not following procedures. That manager was clearly out of line in her response.

    • The “hot spot” tracking is not real. They say that — but where’s the data? They’ve promised it to me — never seen it.

  • Sorry that happened to you OP. Unfortunately, that’s par for the course for Metro station managers. I remember the time I left behind my prescription glasses on a train and I ran to the station manager to see what options I had to get it back and the manager just laughed and laughed. That union must be bulletproof….

    • There’s a world of difference between losing your glasses and getting groped.

      • apparently not if you’re a station manager.

      • I Rex’s point is taken, though. The idiots who staff the station manager booths are usually morons who are there to collect a paycheck and do little else. Laughing at customers, failing to be of service, and basically doing the bare minimum (and usually not even that) is what they do. It’s basically a jobs program.

        • Vote Bowser!

        • not there to collect a paycheck – there to punch their twenty years to retire at taxpayer expense. check out the scandalous situation on the Long Island RR with retirements to get a taste of what’s really going on here.

  • Ugh, that’s terrible.
    OP, I would recommend 1) reporting the incompetent station manager to Metro and 2) (if you haven’t already) calling Metro Transit Police (202-962-2121) and giving them a description of the groper, the info on when/where the incident happened, etc.
    Yes, we can report this stuff directly to Metro Transit Police… but we shouldn’t have to. Not everyone knows that Metro Transit Police exists, or happens to have the number in their phone. Station managers need to be competent enough that THEY immediately call Metro Transit Police. How appalling that this one was so unhelpful.

    • did it ever occur to you that metro *doesn’t care*? there is no entity at metro that gives a fuk. the sooner you accept this, the more reasonable metro employees’ decisionmaking will make sense.

      • the question for a metro station “manager” is squarely “how do i keep my job through my ridiculously early retirement.” not “how can I help passengers” or anything of the like. Thanks, Unions!

  • pablo .raw

    Related but not related. I once had an emergency in which I was going to need to leave my bike at a metro station for days while I was at another city (long story). The station manager knew that there were some bike storage boxes there but that’s it. After a while he found a phone number I could call to see how that system works. Looks like they are not well trained.

    • As I recall, to become a station manager, you must have first been a train driver. To have been a train driver, you must have first been a bus driver. I think if this is the case, they have plenty of time for ‘on the job’ training, they just don’t care. This also prevents good people from coming in – there are alot of people who might not have been a bus driver but could do a much better job. I believe these are union rules — and union problems.

      • I know a guy who couldn’t handle the stress of being a bus driver (got ticketed for running a red light camera) so he was given station manager duty, he’s only 35.

  • and shame on the other passengers that didn’t hold the perp or assist this lady with reporting to metro police. In a situation like this I ask myself what if that was my sister, mother or significant other? We need to do better in looking out for each other – metro managers certainly aren’t and I hope you have the station manager’s name/id she should be exposed and fired for her reaction or lack thereof.

    Call one of the local news stations and report this. If metro gets negative PR they’ll be more likely to respond in a timely fashion. Again so sorry this happened to you.

    • “…shame on the other passengers that didn’t hold the perp”. Okay, Cowboy.

    • Don’t be too judgemental on the other passengers. Diffusion of Responsibility is a real psychological phenomenon and does not mean people are bad or uncaring. Ironically, the more people around during an incident like this, the less likely anyone will help, because everyone assumes someone else will. However if one person does step up to help, others typically follow their lead.

      The trick to defeating it is not to just generally ask for help, but to make it a specific person’s responsibility to help. Point and tell an individual to help.

      Admittedly it is hard to remember this when you’re freaked out, but it worked for me 10 years ago when I was gay bashed @ Kansas and Randolph streets. I managed to scare off the attackers myself (I’m a big guy and not pleasant when angry, especially when bleeding profusely) but there was no one on the street to help call an ambulance. I ran into Kansas and began pointing at passing cars and demanding the driver help me. Although no one got out of their car (in retrospect I totally understood, as I must have appeared a bit crazy), three did pull over and called 911.

  • I would not expect the station manager to confront the guy. They should have called the police though.

  • As the Original Poster, I’d like to clarify that I DID call 202-962-2121 to report this, but only after the Station Manager (or anyone else for that matter) refused to help me detain the guy while he was still on the platform. As someone else on here mentioned, it is very frustrating, confusing, and gross after this happens to you, and your ability to think clearly and logically after this happens is somewhat diminished. Thanks to everyone who gave advice and support.

    • OP – I’m so sorry to hear that this happened to you, this is obviously not acceptable to have on our metro and I would hope to see a strong response from WMATA to ensure single women are safe in all it’s facilities.

      I understand your confusion at the time of the incident but it’s also important to know station managers are not Transit Police. The station manager should assisted you in reporting the incident and ensured you could leave safely, but there is absolutely no way a station manager should “detain” anyone or even leave their booth in the event of a potentially dangerous person in the station. Station managers are not law enforcement officers and are not trained in that sort of work.

      Certainly, it appears, the manager could have explained herself to you more eloquently but it doesn’t seem she did anything wrong by refusing to confront the individual.

      • The station manager didn’t just refuse to confront the individual. From the OP’s account, she apparently refused to do ANYTHING.
        What the station manager should have done was say, “Thanks for letting me know. I’ll call Metro Transit Police and see if they can get here right away.” And she could have accompanied the OP down to the platform, NOT TO CONFRONT THE GUY but to keep an eye on him while waiting for MTPD to show up.

        • I agreed with you at first, but re-reading the original post it’s not actually clear what the station manager did (or didn’t do) other than refuse to apprehend the individual. I’d wait for a more detailed explanation before accusing the station manager of anything.

          If OP ran to the station manager and claimed there was a suspicious person down by the tracks, there is absolutely no scenario in which the station manager is responsible for detaining or for even going down to the tracks to “keep an eye” on the person. As we all know people have been shot and stabbed in those stations and the manager is not a police officer. The right thing to do is stay in the kiosk and call the Transit Police.

    • OP – I know this post was from a while ago, but the same exact thing happened to me last night around 7:45 PM on the Silver Line. I instantly thought of your post after it happened, because the situation was so similar.

      A man fitting the same exact description (right down to the bad smell and green/grayish fleece jacket) sat down next to me at the Farragut West stop. I was instantly uncomfortable as he was sitting far too close to me (he was heavy-set, so he was pressed up against my side and I was stuck between him and the window). He draped the jacket over his lap and slowly moved his hand so it was resting on my thigh. We were approaching the Courthouse stop, so I stood up and quickly exited the train. He got off as well, but stayed on the platform. I was freaked out so I ran up the escalators and googled the MTP number and called it in. They sent an officer to talk with me and file a report, but that was all.

      It seems that the same guy is out there doing this to other women. I wish there was more I could do, but I feel rather helpless. I’m sorry this happened to you, as well.

  • Maybe the station manager just wanted to talk about shoes?

    • Did you hear about the new bolts they placed under the Station Manager’s reclining chair at Wiehle-Reston?

  • The same thing happened to me on the Paris metro when I was 12 (touched my stomach under my shirt). It was a seriously traumatizing event and I still get the chills thinking about it 20 years later. I’m so sorry you went through that and I hope they catch and prosecute him. I’m sure it wasn’t the first time for this guy and it will not be the last.

  • Hmm… Not quite the area, but the suspect description fits a perp who’s been harassing female-presenting people in Columbia Heights for a while now. I’ve only ever heard of him flashing people though.

    • what’s a “female-presenting” person?

    • it also sounds like person who was sleazy to the runner in rcp and who was recently moved on from inside the zoo when discovered with his pants undone in the presence of children. who is this guy?

  • OK…so…if said groper had groped me, and I, say, grabbed him by his hair and stuck a knife to his throat, do we think Metro Police would have come then? Or maybe the station manager might have remembered the number to call Metro Police? Come to think of it…probably not.

  • FYI — calling on the police, transit police, WMATA leadership, the train operator, the station manager or the help of other passengers is totally useless. The best advice here is, apparently, for us to stop existing in public spaces — at least that’s the message I got.

    Earlier this year a man on the metro did something sexual to me, I ran, screamed, pushed the emergency button since we were underground (train operator said police were coming [they weren’t], but she couldn’t help me or stop the train), Once I got a cell signal I called 911 and they said it was the jurisdiction of the Metro Transit Police, I called transit police and they kept saying to stay put and they would be there to meet the train. They never did.

    Mind you — I’m sobbing, I’m cutting in and out of cell reception, and this man is rushing at me the whole time calling me a “bitch” for not letting him finish.

    I eventually got off the train because I was terrified I would be stuck at the end of the line with him. I called the transit police again to tell them which train he’d be on, what he was wearing and what he looked like. They finally caught him, and confirmed it was him.

    And then let him go.

    And then apologized to me for letting him go accidentally.

    And then put a warrant out for his arrest and arrested him.

    And decided it was the wrong jurisdiction, and let him go.

    Not asking for advice here — just saying: If you’re telling this woman what she should have done differently, you’re kidding yourself. None of these things work and none of these people care.

    Special shout-out to the “victim’s advocate” who threatened to subpoena me to testify in a case that a) I was pushing, AND b) never actually happened. Great job!

    • Thanks WMATA, I’m really sorry to hear that happened to you.

      It really shows you how little women, and womens’ perspectives are taken seriously in our society in general and by our police entities specifically. I wish, for both our sakes, and those of all the women in our nation, that sexual crimes were seen as a problem as much as robbery or physical assault without a sexual element.

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