“a woman walking alone was attacked from behind by two men, with no apparent motive other than beating up a stranger”

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A reader reports:

“One of my neighbors (a young woman) was viciously attacked while walking home Monday night at 10 pm. Fortunately, she was close to home and several neighbors heard her scream, chased off her attackers, and called the cops. But they got away, and no one got a great look at them.

Never saw an alert about this assault–how the heck do the police decide what to post?? I would always want to know if my block had a couple of vicious assailants on the loose.

The attack happened near 11th and Otis NW. I heard a crash (her groceries falling) and screaming and by the time I got to the door (dialing 911), my heroic next door neighbor had chased off the attackers. The police response was pretty fast, but as I said, no one got a good look at them and they were long gone (headed toward 10th St down Otis last anyone saw). So as best as I know there are still two dudes who may come up behind you and beat the crap out of you for no reason roaming 11th Street.

Cold weather–not a crime deterrent, it turns out. But folks on 11th St near Otis can be reassured that at least they have great neighbors who will come to their aid.”

62 Comment

  • goaldigger

    Don’t know if mentioned elsewhere but a similar incident happened on Clydesdale Pl NW on Mon. A woman was stalked by 3 men in a black car on Summit Pl around 10:40pm and was then jumped and attacked in front of the Saxony. She had her purse taken. Our building has security cameras (4 of them) so they caught the whole incident (hope useful for the police).

    • There are similarities (lone woman target, between 10-11pm, residential block, violence), which make me nervous. If it is the same people, they’ll probably try it again soon, because they’ve learned there are no consequences after getting away scot-free twice now. Why wouldn’t they do it again?

      • Of course they’ll do it again. I’d even bet money that this wasn’t the perps first foray into this type of disgusting behavior. Many interpretations of DC crime stats suggest a lot of crime is committed by a known contingent of repeat offenders who get off easy time and time again. I’m getting sick of the refrains about crime being an inevitable part of city life. In general, perhaps, but crimes committed by known thugs against innocent civilians are preventable with a functioning criminal justice system. At what point does complete failure to prevent easily preventable crimes become criminal behavior on behalf of those who should be preventing it? I’m not sure we’re there yet, but all signs point to DC heading in that direction.

  • Blah – this is scary and sad! I was walking up 11th and Otis at 9:30pm and it was quiet. Not sure where I can walk anymore.

    • I feel the same way. Something similar happened to my husband near 16th Street within sight of our home over the summer (hit in the head and mugged by 3-4 teenagers at 9:15ish on a weeknight after getting off an S bus). While he was fine from a medical standpoint, our quality of life has taken a nosedive since the incident, and reports like this haven’t done much for our confidence in the District. I have a small child who is with me almost all the time and I feel like there’s a small window for doing anything each day, depending on daylight and weather. I’m reluctant to take Metro anymore with all the faulty trains/equipment and the seemingly increased risk of a random attack while I’m minding my own business, so getting around is limited to buses and walking (not a car owner). I’m grateful we rent, as we are exploring our options elsewhere. We’d like to live in a place where dusk doesn’t equal house arrest for our family.

  • While no elected official can completely stop crime, Brianne Nadeau and Mayor Bowser have been a disaster in this area. DC is less safe than when they took over. Nadeua rarely comments on anything other than affordable housing. Both try to sweep it under the rug and propose policies that will have little effect. We need a new Police Chief too. Whatever they are doing now is not working. Fed up.

    • What would you like to see Nadeau do? Which Council member do you think is a more effective crime fighter?
      .
      I’m no particular fan of Nadeau’s (in fact I’m currently very unhappy with her), but the idea that she has any effective power over crime in her ward just seem ridiculous to me. She’s just a local legislator.

      • At this point, I’d like to hear her even acknowledge that it’s an issue or talk about it more. Nadeua consistently downplays the issue and instead focuses on issues like affordable housing. I support that as well, but those I talk to are most concerned with crime. There is an assault, robbery or gunshots in Columbia Heights nearly every night. You’d think that crime would be her ONLY concern given the current public safety issues in her ward. She may just be out of touch with voters. I certainly don’t lay the blame solely at her feet, but she has a major problem in her Ward and has not shown any leadership on the issues. Have you heard any proposed solutions or legislation from her? I don’t think Bowser’s safety proposal goes far enough and Nadeau can’t even get behind that. CoHi is a mess and it’s gotten worse under her watch.

        • But what would talking about it more than she has actually do? Put differently, if you could swap her for any other council member, present or past, do you actually think the crime rate in ward 1 would be different? What do you think that person would do?

          • I think that it is important to acknowledge the concerns of your constituents. Crime is a major concern in most Wards. So any elected representative should be acknowledging that concern and talking about steps being taken to address it. On the other hand, one of the most-repeated critiques of Jim Graham was that he showed up at every crime scene and commented on every crime.

        • +100, Just having our District Council honestly attempt to address the crime issue would be far better than the status quo “stuff happens in a city” attitude. The Mayor isn’t great on the issue, but the Council has been completely AWOL on the issue.

          Obviously, this is a complex problem with no easy answer. A city with no crime is not realistic, but a city with a lower crime rate is. NYC and Boston are urban east coast big cities than manage to have much lower crime rates that we do. What are they doing better than us? Our policy makers should be studying those cities to see what we can learn from them.

      • Our government officials aren’t responsible for managing crime? That is utter nonsense. Leadership could be demonstrated here by (1) acknowledging a problem or the perception of a problem, (2) identifying what can be done to resolve the problem, (3) taking action. qualitative and/or quantitative steps to resolve the problem.

      • Part of the reason we have councilmembers is for their ability to do things in ways that we haven’t yet thought of. These people are supposed to be leaders — ideally they are also innovative thinkers — not people who simply wait for the public to come up with ideas and then implement them. I give Nadeau a pass because she’s green and is better than Graham (who was in my opinion so awful that he was actually doing more harm than good), but why should I have to do her job for her? Nadeau should decide what Nadeau should do.
        .
        And by the way, councilmembers absolutely do have effective power over MPD and social service agencies to help stem crime in their wards. Maybe it’s just the last couple of decades of inept councilmembers that have convinced the public that the council can’t affect any real change.

        • Sure, I get what you’re saying. I think it’s reasonable to be upset about a situation without necessarily knowing the answer, and I think it’s fair to hold our elected officials to a high standard.
          .
          On the other hand, I think if you are going to argue that crime is able to be addressed by a single local legislator, then you ought to be able to point to at least one person who has done that.
          .
          I’m not trying to be snarky. I live here, and I’m concerned about crime too. I just think the constant complaining on Popville that Nadeau hasn’t solved crime yet is pointless.

    • Look, Nadeau and Bowser care most about property values, re-development, and increasing the tax base. That’s it.
      .
      The more they talk about crime, the more property values will plateau and/or even fall. Because people won’t move here from Fairfax or Bethesda and keep driving up prices if they think DC is sketchy. Young people will opt for Silver Spring if they believe Petworth or CoHi is dangerous.
      .
      It’s comes down to dollars and cents. You can either downplay crime and keep the property machine running. Or you can talk honestly about the issues but don’t surprised if demand takes a hit.

      • So people only hear about crime if Nadeau or Bowser talk about it? I don’t think so. People hear about crime from victims, this blog, other blogs, community meetings, listservs, and the general news. You’d have to have your head pretty far in the sand to miss all the crime happening in DC over the past year.

        • Vast majority of my friends who live in the most popular/gentrified parts of NW and NE don’t even bother to look at the local blogs or Metro section of the WaPo, let alone attend community meetings or get on the listserv! We are an extremely small, self-selecting sample of the DC metro area. If I bring up “Prince of Petworth” “PoPville” or the DC Reddit, 9 out of 10 times I get a blank stare.
          They won’t know anything about DC crime unless they are directly involved in an incident.

          • Well, you have some ill-informed friends. I seriously do not have one DC friend who doesn’t know what PoPville is. And you’re telling me that your friends don’t read WaPo or anything else, but they look for what Bowser or Nadeau is saying? Okay…

          • Well then how are they going to hear what Nadeau says about it? Local blogs and listservs is where that stuff gets reported. Middle of the Metro section at best.
            .
            At any rate, I think you’re dead wrong about her priorities. I think she cares deeply about affordable housing, which is entirely at odds with maximizing the tax base and property values.

          • Agreed with jcm.

          • I disagree with your premise that Nadeau cares about economic development. She is a hyper-liberal, Kool-Aid drinker who thinks all problems can be solved with a “nice chat” and some social service assistance. I support a comprehensive approach that involves government assistance, but not solely that alone. She is one step removed from an Occupy Wallstreet protester. I won’t be voting for her again.

      • A very cynical +1

      • +1

        but it is a risky bet to make. acknowledging and laying a path for forward movement could actually help to bring more money in, than if no acknowledgement were given and the worsening crime rate were reported elsewhere.

        possibly better to contain and control the story than to ignore

      • Well if you’d like to know the formula for how crime dropped in the first place it was something like this: re-development, fewer vacant properties (higher tax base nooo!), and increased property values (better retail).
        .
        So I guess they are doing the one thing that we know has worked before in the past.

      • I find this comment laughable.

        While I”m no Bowser supporter I think it’s kind of goofy to say she doesn’t care about crime in the city. I mean, I think it was in the last week she had a press conference in front of Eatern Market Metro about some sort of crime policy she is trying to push on the city. Forgive me if I can’t remember what that policy was or what day it was on.

        Now if you wanted to say her methods of combating crime in the city are ineffective hat would be more than fair and probably correct.

  • The OP didn’t provide a lot of information on how badly the woman was injured or if she was attacked with weapons. In my experience, if the assailants did not use a “weapon” (gun/knife/etc) and the victim’s injuries were “no worse” than bruises, abrasions or light cuts, they consider it a “simple assault” and don’t send out an alert.

    This was the implied message I received from the MPD after being randomly attacked by a man who only used his fists against me and only caused bruises and abrasions (and months of psychological trauma).

    • I’m so sorry that happened to you. I have a dear friend who was assaulted with “just fists” and has had to endure months of reconstructive surgeries, medical bills and counseling… to her (and to you and other in this situation) there is no such thing as a “simple assault” – it’s traumatic and terrifying, regardless of there being no weapon. I wish MPD would take these attacks (and attempts!) seriously and notify the neighborhoods/send out alerts.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      It was also with fists according to OP.

    • Yeesh. I do sometimes see alerts for “robbery snatch” or “robbery F&V” with no weapon listed, but maybe the difference is that nothing was taken here? That definitely seems backwards though, since the violence described above is way scarier than a phone or purse snatching.

    • I second your comments about the psychological trauma. Bruises, abrasions and cuts heal, but the memory and trauma of being victimized and the ability of one to feel safe walking in their neighborhood take much longer to heal, if ever.

    • For those asking about self defense courses, there is an excellent one offered to women that is called IMPACT.

  • Brave guys to attack a young woman alone carrying groceries. Agree that it is a bit disturbing that the police didn’t send an alert/lookout, especially since goaldigger suggests there was another similar incident fairly close by! Major props to OP and the other neighbors who helped out.

    • +1 agree with the major props but strongly disagree with the idea that this was “Brave guys to attack a young woman alone carrying groceries.” This is one of the reasons I don’t grocery shop after rush hour on any given evening… a young woman alone with her hands full probably looks like a very easy target to one attacker, not to mention multiple attackers. Plus I don’t think any criminal is particularly “brave” — just awful.

      • (that is, unless you were being sarcastic. i have a hard time sensing sarcasm on here sometimes!)

        • I’m sure it was sarcasm. If someone is calling criminals brave, it’s 99.9% sarcasm.

          • HaileUnlikely

            There are some brave pieces of sh!t roaming around those parts, though. A couple of years ago a fellow usher at my church, who is in his 80’s, was robbed by two teenage boys at 14th & Spring, and those brave little b!tches pistol-whipped him. I wonder if they graduated from using a gun to rob an 80-yar-old man to robbing a woman with their bare hands, or whether this was a training exercise to prepare different thugs to take on 80-year-old men in the future.

          • Did you mean to say brazen?

          • Come on. We’re all typing on the internet here. Notoriously hard to sense sarcasm, which is why I am generally against using sarcasm on the internet myself.

          • Sarcasm can be missed online, but everyone except you caught the sarcasm in the post. Context clues are always good to use.

          • … Which is why I followed up immediately after I posted saying it might be sarcasm. I was literally the first person to point that out after my apparently REALLY STUPID COMMENT. So way to state the obvious, Anon Spock.

        • You are really good at picking up on sarcasm.

        • Yes, that was sarcasm! I think two men assaulting a lone female with her hands full of groceries is pretty much as cowardly as it comes (right up there with pistol-whipping an 80-year-old man, as Haile notes below)

  • Are there any classes or training courses on defense by the city?

    • I’d like to know this as well.

    • This is a google worthy inquiry. Many different organizations periodically arrange self defense classes. I’d also check local martial arts shools like Beta Academy to see if they offer a series or would be willing to set something up for your group.
      Until then, things like not being preoccupied while walking (no phone or headphones) nor being overly encumbered are ways to make yourself seem less like an appealing target.

    • DC impact – there is course scheduled for end of Jan (plus other sessions)

  • Wow I lived on this block 10 years ago and going back a few days ago I mentioned to a friend how much safer the neighborhood appeared. Back then I used to get followed home and harassed on a daily basis. I guess I was lucky that it never amounted to anything else. So sorry this happened 🙁

    • Should definitely be looked at as a potential hate crime since it was described as not a robbery but a targeted beating. My bet is it won’t be though.

      • HaileUnlikely

        It sounds from the above like neighbors intervened and bad guys fled very quickly. Regardless of what words the victim or op chose to use to describe what happened, I don’t think we can really know whether this was an attempted robbery or something else.

  • I live at 14th and Otis, there are SO many people who loiter and constantly harass my friend and I (either together or on separate occasions). I actually called 911 last night because there were people screaming and yelling in front of our building (one of which is the constant harasser) and I told the cops they need to patrol this area and either tell these people. Granted being harassed pales in comparison to being physically attacked but no one should feel unsafe and constantly looking behind their shoulder in their neighborhood.

    • Stupid question, but is there a reason why you’re still living there? I’m assuming you’re paying northward of $2,000 for a 1br, or $2,500+ for a 2br in this area.

      Why?

  • I’ve lived on this block for almost 4 years now and am disheartened by both the details of the attack and complete lack of acknowledgment or response from our councilwoman. There are definitely times that I have come home alone or walked my dog later than I should have but this is out of control. I want to give all the props to the neighbors. People that live in the vicinity have always been extremely welcoming and nice so it is good to know that if I screamed at least there will be a response. Be safe everyone :-/

  • How awful! Several years ago, my husband was robbed during the early evening when it was still light, by some drive-by thieves. It was so scary. A police report was taken but we never heard back. I assume the guys weren’t caught for our incident.
    But I believe in either karma or G-d, that these perps will strike again & eventually get caught. We may never know & probably never have our day in court. But they will be punished.

  • Sorry that you experienced that. Just taking a guess but I believe it wasnt posted because the event reads as a unprovoked simple assault (misdemeanor). If something else happened, such as something taken or serious injury (felony) then it would more than likely have been posted.

  • It seems a lot of homes in the area have security cameras set up. I wonder if any have views of the street. Is this something the cops would pursue? Seems like an easy way to get an image of the perpetrators.

  • I really regret voting councilman graham out of office. When is Naddeau up for reelection? Need to get strong candidate lined up soon…..

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