Assault on Metropolitan Branch Trail by “20 Juvenile Suspects” at 4:50pm

mbt

From MPD:

“TODAY [Tuesday] AT APPROXIMATELY 4:50 PM, A VICTIM OF A ROBBERY REPORTS TO MPD THAT WHILE WALKING SOUTHBOUND ON THE METROPOLITAN BRANCH TRAIL [close to 5th and T St, NE] AN UNKNOWN SUSPECT STRUCK THE VICTIM WHILE RIDING HIS BIKE. THE VICTIM WAS THEN ASSAULTED BY THE INITIAL SUSPECT AND APPROXIMATELY 20 OTHER JUVENILE SUSPECTS. STOLEN FROM THE VICTIM WAS A CELL PHONE THAT WAS TAKEN DURING THE ASSAULT. ALL OF THE SUSPECTS FLED SOUTH ON THE TRAIL.”

99 Comment

  • FYI according to the victims brother he has multiple facial fractures, missing teeth, and gashes on his entire body.

  • justinbc

    Twenty! Surely a camera somewhere captured this mob of this size?

  • 20 juvenile suspects? good lord. The crime is out of control. Although once they do hard time, Bowser can start paying them to not kill people. They can still beat them up, just don’t kill them.

    • thats not the specifics of the program she presented and you know that.

      • Yea that’s not at all the specifics – the people in that program can’t use a gun for their assaults or robberies. Everything else is ok

      • I know its a monumental waste of money and doesn’t address the hundreds of violent robberies in the city especially from juveniles. It is too limited in scope to have a significant impact beyond a limited number of participants. I know it wont do anything to address the failing school system or the lack of needed intervention that needs to happen to by kindergarten for kids in high risk groups in DC.

        • how do you explain how this has helped in other communities tho? Its a little disingenuous to say a program didn’t work before the program even begins.

          • Because it hasn’t. It was tried in one community, where people receiving the payments are believed to have committed at least two murders, and continue to receive payments. And after a short-term dip, violent crime is rising again in the ONE community this supposedly worked in.

          • Which community is this?

          • Its a little disingenuous to take 1 or 2 studies that simply look at trends in reported statistics over a short period of time as rock solid evidence that a particular public policy change had a certain effect. There are studies and then there are studies. Ones that simply analyzes the publicly available data and infer trends are worth something – but not always worth a lot. Its impossible to correct for coincidence, especially when you have a conclusion in search of supporting data.

            For instance, since the Beatles came to America in 1964, there has been a very measurable decrease in the instances of government sanctioned segregation in Southern States. Many would assign credit to the Civil Rights Act, but isnt it debatable that the Beatles had just as much to do with it?

          • @Kingman Park – it’s in Richmond, CA

        • “the lack of needed intervention that needs to happen to by kindergarten for kids in high risk groups in DC.”
          .
          As I was saying in a thread several weeks back, D.C. really needs early intervention — particularly, training kids in nonviolent conflict resolution. A Washington Post story about the kid who was shot at the Deanwood Metro says that the shooter and victim were unacquainted, and the shooter shot the victim because he thought the victim was looking at him the wrong way and perceived it as disrespect.
          https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/dc-police-arrest-suspect-in-fatal-shooting-of-15-year-old-at-deanwood-metro/2016/03/29/38181710-f510-11e5-8b23-538270a1ca31_story.html

    • You guys making the exact same comment on every. single. thread. about. crime. is not going to do anything to change a policy you disagree with. It’s not funny, it’s not clever and it’s not proactive. It just becomes annoying and redundant to those of us trying to read through the comments. Heads up – Bowser and Lanier are not skimming Popville comments for policy suggestions!

    • This isn’t Mayor Bowser’s initiative, it is CM McDuffie’s.

  • northeazy

    So–I dont get it. A cell phone? They are ubiquitous. You can get them for free. The expensive ones are rendered non-functional the minute they are reported stolen. Is this robbing for sport? I have long advocated for the MBT to have a Blue Light system, similar to those on collage campuses, that citizens can use after an attack. The only difference would be that the MBT system would instead activate a series of Howitzers that would emerge from underground storage units and rain hellfire mowing down any fleeing burglars. Since in DC only the state and criminals are permitted to use firearms, I feel this method is a nice half-way point. Basically allowing citizens to access state-owned firepower in times of emergency.

    • ” Is this robbing for sport? ”

      Yes.

    • Yes, because getting hit behind in the head while biking is exactly the type of scenario when you can use a gun.

      You gun nuts try and force your childish talking points into everything. Go back to Virginia. Or better yet, Somalia.

      • Probably not, but being attacked by 20 people may very well fit the feared for my life standard generally imposed for such scenarios.
        Obviously howitzers aren’t the answer.

        • Being attacked by 20 people is probably the worst possible time to pull a firearm. You might take out 1 or 2 but your own chances of being killed would skyrocket.

        • HaileUnlikely

          I got the idea he meant can physically, not can legally. Getting surprised from behind, knocked down, and having a bunch of people jump on you and start kicking your @ss does not exactly make for an opportune time to get your gun out and point it at somebody.

      • Accountering

        This person would have been well in their rights to defend themselves with deadly force – agree this would have been a poor time to do such, but legally they would have been 100% justified to defend themselves with deadly force.

    • justinbc

      They aren’t doing this for the cellphone, they’re doing it because they’re little #$$^#@$ who get a rise out of screwing with people, especially knowing that they won’t be punished for it.

      • This. These little monsters finished a tough day of not learning a damn thing at school and wanted to f**k someone up, plain and simple. They did it because they think it’s fun and they know they’ll get away with it. I’m sure their lives are rough and their school probably sucks…doesn’t explain or justify this behavior.

    • I thought that wasn’t correct — didn’t the woman whose iPhone was stolen at the Rock and Roll Hotel say that apparently the phones can be wiped?
      .
      I’ve been confused about this, because I thought there _was_ a move in place to make it so that stolen phones could be “bricked,” thereby reducing the appeal of smartphone theft.

      • There is. I have a Samsung phone and I can render it “bricked” just by logging into my google account. I can also set it to take photos of anyone trying to turn on or activate the phone, as well as stream GPS data to me – all useful for recovering the phone or prosecuting the thief.
        .
        I think people confuse the causation of these situations. 20 kids are not assaulting someone to steal a phone, or a wallet, but they are stealing the phone because they are assaulting people. The whole intent of this incident was the beat up someone, not to profit from it. Stealing a phone/wallet/shoes/whatever is a secondary motive, if a motive at all. I thinking of all the senseless violence, like the “knock-out game” where the assailant is often on a bike and legs it out of the vicinity as quickly as possible afterwards.

      • HaileUnlikely

        To my knowledge (which may be incomplete), the phone functionality of an iPhone can be remotely deactivated. This does not really turn the phone into a brick, though — it basically turns it into an iPod. If there is a way to prevent it from being able to connect to WiFi and run apps and stuff, I am not aware of that.
        .
        Still, as Justin says below, I doubt this was about obtaining a phone to sell or use. I suspect it was about f*cking with somebody, because for a certain special kind of deviant, that’s what it’s all about, I guess.

      • Agreed with others that the primary motivation in this incident was not to steal a phone — I was just curious about the “bricking” option in general.

  • I rode up shortly after this event, and it was pretty brutal. Lots of blood on the victim and on the ground, and the victim was missing a tooth.

    I biked along the trail with a witness who said that there were ‘at least 15 guys,’ most of which were on bikes. The alleged assailants were just hanging around, with bikes laid out all over the trail to make it impassable when the victim walked by. The youths then slapped the guy on the head (or something provoking like that), at which point the victim allegedly tried to verbally or physically defend himself — which likely just made the whole thing worse, as this was apparently when the group swarmed.

    All of the above information comes from a second hand source, so I am not reporting anything as a fact. Just a third hand report of another bystanders point of view.

    The victim had every right to be on the trail and stand up for himself. But as a person that bikes this trail every day, I will likely just turn around if there are big groups of kids on the trail with apparently nothing to do.

  • Too bad this wasn’t an inch of snow, that usually gets the Mayor’s attention.

    • “Too bad this wasn’t a forecast for an inch of snow, that usually gets the Mayor’s attention.”

      Fixed it for you

  • Housewives of Truxton Circle

    I have never been on the Met. Branch Trail. I have considered using it to bike up to Takoma Park from Truxton as it comes up on City Mapper as the best route, but I’ve hesitated because it seemed like it might be isolated and a good place to get robbed. Is the trail prone to crime generally?

      • Yeah to link this tag list is a little unfair. Sure it only makes headlines when there’s a crime, but “good news isn’t news.” 99.9% of the time this trail is a nice quiet place to bike or run along.

        • If anything it just goes to show that the trail is relatively safe, look how far between each post – and many of them aren’t even about muggings.

        • 99.9% of the time nothing will happen if you drive without your seatbelt on. But nobody would say that is safe.

    • No. I’ve ridden it 3,000+ times in the past few years and only seen two incidents. One was a snatch and grab, the other was a collision between a rider and a walker that escalated due to road rage.

      • justinbc

        I’ve ridden bikes all over all of DC and I’ve never been robbed or witnessed a robbery, that doesn’t mean they don’t happen on the streets I’ve ridden on. If the question is whether this one particular stretch sees more violence than, say, any other particular bike trail, then it seems (as a reader of this site) that the answer would be yes.

        • That’s not exactly empirical. It may very well be true that the MBT sees more crime than a typical bike trail. It makes sense narratively, since it’s somewhat isolated. But it’s a slippery thing to know for sure. Maybe when the NY Ave. rail-to-trail project is complete, we’ll have some more context.
          .
          In any case, there are safety improvements planned for the MBT, along with more trail-facing developments that should make it more vibrant and safer. Fingers crossed.

    • burritosinstereo

      I run on it several days a week (always during daylight hours), and have never encountered any problems. During the warmer months I frequently see police officers on bikes, which is slightly reassuring.

      • I used to run and bike on the trail until a group of kids on bikes attempted to mug me last June (I very very luckily managed to get away and found a cop and reported it). I have been pretty petrified of the trail ever since. There are a couple of stretches where it’s just impossible to avoid confrontation with groups of kids hanging around there- no place to get off the trail to safety. This happened to me on a Saturday at 11am, in broad daylight. I only ever ride bikes on the trail now, and even then prefer to do it with my boyfriend or some other person to deter being targeted for being by myself. It’s a shame because it’s so convenient for me, but ultimately I’ve determined that it’s not worth the risk. Unfortunately now that it’s getting nicer out, it just means that there will be more kids hanging around the trail..

    • I ride the trail both ways, everyday. Like everywhere else in the city, there is a risk, but I wouldn’t be worried about it. In reality, you have a very low chance of danger, and probably not higher than whatever alternate route you chose. Compounded on top of that, is the chance of getting hit by a vehicle on the city streets. The fear-mongering, that this blog is slowly turning towards, just makes it more dangerous by turning people away from using the trail. Please, use the trail and ask your councilmember for more lights/cameras/patrols.

  • There should be a mandatory minimum sentence for this kind of brutal, unprovoked attack. I’d like to see every one of these thugs locked up for at least 5 years. But, this being DC, I’m sure we’ll read about at least one of them being arrested for seriously assaulting, or killing, someone again in the near future.

    • I’m all for changing the law so that juveniles involved in violent crime are automatically tried as adults. At 16 year old knows what he’s doing when he assaults someone, just the same as an 18 year old does. Why should they be treated any differently?
      .
      I would love to know if such a change would have a deterrent effect on teenagers committing these types of crimes. I’ve also wondered to what extend this behavior is encouraged by the idea that, if caught, the consequences are so low.

      • I would imagine the deterrent effect would be pretty modest, IMO the big improvement would come from removing the small number of repeat violent offenders from the streets.

      • The brain science simply does not back up your statement. In fact, it runs in the opposite direction. Of course, that isn’t the only thing to consider and does point to obvious policy decision.

        • I wasn’t making a definitive statement – more posing a line of inquiry. I’d love to know you’re thinking on the matter other than saying I’m wrong. You say that it runs in the opposite direction – how does lowering the age at which juveniles are tried as an adult increase the amount of violence? I could see it have an negligible impact, but not increasing it.

          • GBinCH, google “teenage brain development.” There is lots of material on this. Again, I’m not advocating anything in particular, but understanding an issue is useful when discussing possible solutions.

        • Someone with a smidgen of compassion and understanding of neurological development might consider supporting the SEED Foundation. They run tuition-free college-prep boarding schools for at-risk youth. ALL of the first class of graduates at the DC school were accepted to college.

        • GBinCH, are you really interested? Because in .5 seconds, google can give you a couple days’ worth of reading on the development of the teen brain. Here’s one.
          https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/The-Teen-Brain-Behavior-Problem-Solving-and-Decision-Making-095.aspx

          • Let me rephrase my inquiry a little. I’m not that interested in how the teenage brain works and there will always be variations between teenagers in how they reason and make decisions. I’d like to know about an empirical case study where a municipality/state/whatever has mandated something along the lines of trying teenagers as adults who commit violent crimes, and whether that has any corresponding impact on crime. So I guess I’m less interested in the science and more interested in how it plays out in reality.

          • GB in CH,

            Science IS reality.

            What you’re looking for is scientific studies on effective criminal statutes and law enforcement.

    • Just so I’m clear: You think the solution to juvenile crime is to put said juvenile criminals in a closed environment with seasoned criminals, wait five years, and then let them out? Because after those five years interacting with seasoned criminals and the paragons of humanity that work as prison guards, they’re going to be… better?

      • I don’t know about better, but I would think the case is more about keeping them off the streets for longer. Right now, violent teenagers go to Juvi and are out on the streets after a few years. They’re no “better” and just as violent, and the rate of recidivism is pretty bad. Sending them to jail for 5+ years at least keeps them off the streets longer.
        .
        Also, per my above inquiries, I wonder if there would be a disincentive at work with harsher punishments. I honestly don’t know if that’s the case, it may not be (crimes of opportunity/passion/etc tend not to be rationally planned out), but I would be curious to see if this has an impact in discouraging or changing the types of crime. I would consider a reduction in the number of assaults, even if the number of muggings stays the same, something of a victory. I can replace a phone easily – but having had teeth knocked out before, I know how much pain, time and money that can be.

        • So what happens when they return five years later: meaner, stronger and more determined to eliminate eyewitnesses to avoid getting sent back to prison?

      • Frankly, I’m less concerned with violent juvenile offenders (who make up a very small percentage of the juvenile population) becoming “better,” and far more concerned with keeping them away from the rest of the law-abiding population, thereby preventing future assaults, robberies, murders, etc. against innocent victims.

      • ^ This. Also these children aren’t thinking “I’m gonna get 5-10 if I do this, but I bet I will only get probation if I do this” It’s not a deterrent. Imposed minimums have been proven awful and not a preventative measure. I don’t have the answers but I know the solution is a multifaceted holistic one that includes support, community involvement (volunteer in your local DC Public Schools PEOPLE!), policing, and an increase in well targeted social services.

      • That’s correct. For five years they will not be assaulting me or anyone else. If they do it again, let’s give them 20 years. Eventually they will be too old to hurt anyone. I’m all for ending mass incarceration for non violent crimes, and 3 strikes laws were fatally flawed because often the “third strike” was something like shoplifting food – but violent thugs? Look them up and throw away the key. And I’m happy to use my tax dollars to pay for it.

      • WDC

        Most people working as COs/prison guards are regular people who took a dangerous and stressful job as a means to better provide for their family. have some respect for the working man or woman. Just as it’s wrong to generalize about the individuals who perpetrate these crimes, it’s wrong to put down an entire group of people who work in a hellish environment for little money, doing a job that most people on this blog couldn’t do for 2 seconds.

        Clark

        • That may be the case, but there is a real issue with putting kids in jail with seasoned criminals and kind of creating more criminals as a result. I don’t have the evidence/study/etc handy, but I’m fairly certain that these kids are more likely to become worse criminals from going to jail with adult criminals than if other measures are taken.

      • how much better will the be after 5 years interacting with their criminal friends and paragons of society that are their parents?

        • You can take the chance they will interact with criminals on the outside, or you can guarantee it by throwing them in prison.
          If on the outside, there are ways to mitigate the negative effects. As I mentioned above (no one seemed interested) the SEED Foundation has boarding schools with excellent results.
          More investment from the community, more extra curricular activities at school (funded ones– not just a “club” in the cafeteria), more opportunities to do something different than their peers and parents, rewarding ways to earn some pocket money… But too many people are acting on their animal instinct to punish, and apparently unable to rely on their brains and find and support ways to reduce the need for punishment.
          I can’t believe people aren’t more embarrassed to be spouting these simpleminded “solutions” to juvenile crime.

          • justinbc

            It’s funny you use the term animal instinct, given the behavior exhibited by the criminals in question.

          • It’s funny that that’s the only thing you took from my post.
            .
            Yes, animal instinct. The one that makes people who are hurting more inclined to hurt others. Like how even the nicest dog will snap if he’s in pain.

          • justinbc

            I’ve seen the rest repeated so many times in so many other posts when juveniles like these commit these same types of crimes, so that was the only new thing that stood out.

    • “But, this being DC, I’m sure we’ll read about at least one of them being arrested for seriously assaulting, or killing, someone again in the near future.”

      Well, assuming they are ever identified/caught.

  • thursty

    Gah. Was just running the trail this morning. I wish there were more cameras (or that they checked them)/phones for help.

  • I’m sure there is video all over social media/snap chats…find one of those hooligans and throw the book at him/her.
    Get the rest of them and punish the crap out of them.

  • Honestly MPD…how hard can it be to do something about this? There is crime on this trail all the time — why aren’t their bike cops patrolling this route all afternoon and evening? Why aren’t their cameras? And lights? This is not that hard — we know its relatively dangerous, get your cops out of their cars (where they sit around and play on their smartphones) and start patrolling!

    • Yeah, if the description of the commenter above is correct that the group had basically set up a roadblock, seems like a bike patrol could have helped.

    • For what it’s worth, I’ve definitely seem bike cops riding up and down the trail during evening rush. Doesn’t appear to have helped in this case.

  • Jesus Christ. Twenty juveniles?!??

  • retropean

    In the past 10 months, I’ve had 3 close incidents riding the stretch from Union Station to R. Now I only take this route if there are other cyclists with me, otherwise I continue down First st NE.. better to risk getting hit by a car than this.

    Wishing the victim a quick recovery.

  • Is it spring break for DC public school students?

  • I have been commuting on this trail for years and have never had a problem, but I have no doubt part of that is luck. Incidents like these make me think it is worth trying to organize a commuter peloton in the evening.

  • I totally disagree that crime is rare on the trail. If anything it’s much more common than what the MPD reports. I had an incident late last summer where five kids blocked the path while I was biking down from Brookland to my house in Eckington. It was a Saturday afternoon with plenty of other people using the trail. They stopped me, I yelled loudly and they finally moved. As I sped away, one of them yelled that he had a gun. I called the cops as soon as I got home and it took AN HOUR for them to show up and then the cop said that he couldn’t do anything about it and would not file a report.

    It’s pretty outrageous that things like this keep happening on this trail. As an avid cyclist, I believe trails like this are critical to providing safe options to encourage more cycling in the city. The MBT should be safer, not riskier, than riding in the street.

    • Agreed. Unless there’s injuries or property loss, I don’t think it gets reported. We all know how much time MPD has for menacing, threats, and harassment.

  • Ally

    I know folks will disagree with this one, but I’d love a 2-strikes-and-you’re-out-policy. Not for drug or theft offenses… but for violent crimes. If you willfully hurt someone, it should be mandatory jail time — even if the injuries aren’t severe. If you do it again, that should be it. Jail time and done. No issue with what they learn in jail because I don’t believe they should ever, ever get out of jail if they’ve committed a violent offense then managed to not learn from their mistake and do it a second time.

    • What about the deans list student at Georgetown who punches a guy in a bar for, say, making an obscene and threatening remark to a woman? What if he stood up for others TWICE, and both cases required a quick jab to the jaw to get the message across? Life in prison, right?

      • Ally

        I don’t think punching someone in the face is the best way to handle any situation, but there should obviously be mitigating circumstances allowed, particularly for self-defense or defense of others. I’m talking primarily about people who — for seemingly no or little reason — attack other civilians. At some point, if that kind of crime happens more than once, you should have to give up your right to coexist with the people who play nicely.

        • Ah, ok. So you’re talking about rules for people Not Like You. Introduce a little possibility that this could be your own kid brother, and the hedging begins.

          • Um, no, she’s talking about punishment for unprovoked violent crimes. Physical intervention in the defense of another person is given the same protection as self-defense–i.e., it’s not considered a crime.
            Your example compared to the MBT assault is like comparing apples to oranges.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Yes, it’s given the same protection as self-defense. However, the protection that self-defense is given varies widely depending on your socioeconomic status and the quality of your lawyer. I know people who have been convicted of a felony and done hard time for what any sane person would regard as self-defense.

      • So your question is whether a two-strikes law for violent felons would apply to a violent felon who commits two assaults.

        I think the answer is self-evident.

    • HaileUnlikely

      This has some intuitive appeal, but unfortunately, there is a great deal of evidence that some people are much more likely than others to get convicted for the crime, given that both of them undisputedly committed the crime and were arrested and charged for it. If this wouldn’t so clearly disproportionately impact people who couldn’t afford good lawyers, this might actually be an interesting proposal, but in the country that we actually live in, it would function as another way to lock up poor people.

      • Ally

        It’s a very valid point, which is why I don’t support the death penalty at all. So, there’s not a good clear solution given our current justice system. All I know is that I have a 9-month-old son and I feel horrified that there are people out on their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and sometimes 5th or more violent offense, who would happily beat the crap out of him for entertainment. That shouldn’t be allowed, regardless of a broken judicial system. If you hurt people — intentionally and without necessity — you should not be allowed to do it again and again.

  • Paul Kersey would get these punks off the streets in no time.

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