“On Sunday March 6th around 10:30am in Mt Pleasant I witnessed the most horrifying incident of all my years living in DC”

MtP
Photo by PoPville flickr user dynagroove1

“Dear PoPville,

On Sunday March 6th around 10:30am in Mt Pleasant I witnessed the most horrifying incident of all my years living in DC. At the intersection of Mt Pleasant and Park Streets a young kid (looked to be high school age, maybe slightly older) was walking/stomping along the sidewalk, yelling and swearing at the top of his lungs (b****, motherf*****, n*****, etc), and he was completely naked except for socks.

At first I thought that a friend had played a prank on him by stealing his clothes. After a few seconds I noticed the anger in his voice and realized that he was not yelling at anyone in particular. It then became obvious that he had either had a psychotic break or was high on something (or both). He continued walking up Mount Pleasant Street and yelling at the top of his lungs until he stopped in front of the Argyle convenient store and began banging his fists and arms on the side of a parked car. He was banging on this car so hard I thought he might break through the glass. The car was shaking from the impact. At that point people started noticing that something wasn’t right and many of us bystanders called 911. When he was done with the car he continued over to the intersection of Mount Pleasant and Park, and he laid down on his back in the middle of the street. He was rolling around on his back, still yelling, and began to take off his socks. Some compassionate woman who was standing nearby seemed worried about him being hit by a car, so she walked into the middle of the road just a few feet away from him to make sure traffic stopped. It was so brave of her. The most horrifying part came a few minutes later, when the kid stood up and lunged at the woman, grabbing a handful of her hair and pulling on her head. After she had tried to help him! Luckily another older man who seemed very strong from where I was standing jumped in to help the woman. He had a hold of her head for a good minute. The older man finally got the kid off of the woman and started to struggle with him. Finally the older man was able to pull the kids’ hands behind his back and forced him down to the ground, and I believe kept him there until the police finally arrived.

I’ve been refreshing PoPville and stalking the internet in general all day to see if anyone else wrote in about this incident. I can’t stop thinking about it. It was all so incredibly disturbing, sad, scary, and frustrating. This kid must have been high on something (bath salts? Synthetic weed?) The only somewhat relieving part of him being naked was that he obviously didn’t have any type of weapon on him. Still, he was an absolute danger to himself and others just by sheer strength and craze, or if he had grabbed something as innocuous as a rock or a stick. We don’t, or at least I don’t, think of being at risk of harm in broad daylight while I’m running errands on a Sunday in my neighborhood. It is scary to know that more and more we’re vulnerable at any time of the day. I feel so sad for the woman who was assaulted by this kid after she was trying to be a good citizen. I am also extremely frustrated that the police did not arrive for at least 10 minutes. By the time I called 911 the dispatcher told me that they had already received several calls and police were on their way. It took 10 minutes for them to arrive. I would say that on any given day in Mount Pleasant there’s about a 90% chance of seeing a police car parked across the street from Don Juan’s or in front of 711. But at this moment when we really needed police there, it took 10 minutes.

I’m not sure what the ultimate point of this message is, but it feels good to write out these thoughts. Also, I wanted to express how compassionate and brave that woman is and also how brave the man who helped her and wrangled the young kid is. Thanks.”

77 Comment

  • I hope this kid got the help he needed. Thank you to all who called 911 and ensured that he didn’t not harm others or himself. That, to me, says more about our neighborhood than whatever was happening with this young man.

  • sounds like a love boat trip. PCP episodes are terrifying.

  • Doesn’t pay to be nice to your fellow DC dwellers. Lesson to remember

    • Or, be compassionate but be wary of people who are not mentally with it (drugs or otherwise). For example, the lady could have moved to block traffic while also keeping some distance from the person.

      • I think you could have stopped at Be wary of people
        we live in DC, lest we forget. It’s a big city and like all big cities, it’s dangerous and danger mostly comes from people

        • I am pretty paranoid but I have to hand it to you, ParkViewneighbor, you’ve reached a new level of pessimistic I’ve yet to encounter. THIS kind of attitude is exactly why DC has so many problems! It’s an every-man-for-himself attitude and it ultimately benefits no one.

          • +1 It’s really pathetic that “doesn’t pay to be nice to your fellow DC dwellers” is the lesson you took from this story.

          • I’ve been living in large cities my entire life, and i stopped singing Kumbaya on my way to the metro a long time ago.
            However, please feel free to approach inner city situations with an open heart and see where this gets you. On this blog, there has been dozens and dozens of testimonials about how screwed up people can be in a city like DC. Call it pessimism or the source of all DC problems if you will but i’d rather treat any situation as potentially harmful to me than not do it and get injured for it.

          • The problem is that we don’t live in a two-tone world where “Kumbaya” and “Every-Man-for-Himself” are the only options. There are options in between. You can care by calling the appropriate authorities (911, homeless services for the homeless, etc.) … you can care by making sure others don’t accidentally walk into harms way. It is possible to be compassionate without having a completely open heart, as you say. In no way does “being nice to your fellow city dwellers” entail putting yourself in harms way, unless you yourself make that decision.

        • The day I lose my last shred of compassion is the day I leave DC. Sure, you read about plenty of bad stuff that goes on, because that makes the headlines. But there’s plenty of good that goes on and I’d rather be a part of that.
          Blocking traffic from hitting someone lying in the middle of the street *from a safe distance* is pretty low risk.

      • “For example, the lady could have moved to block traffic while also keeping some distance from the person.”
        .
        The OP said the woman was a few feet away from the guy. She probably thought she was sufficiently far away, especially given that he was prone on the street.

  • I saw it too – I’m amazed with all the gawkers about nobody took a video. I came a little late to get any context (although it sounds like there wasn’t as much as I thought) but witnessed a 20-something guy trying to restrain the kid somewhat unsuccessfully, before a larger, older man ran out and restrained the kid (mostly by grabbing him by the neck). I’m not sure I left quite as impressed with humanity as OP.

    • I think it’s impressive that people risked their own safety to intervene in this situation, when the easiest thing would be to just stand back and make it someone else’s problem.

    • I was there as well. For me, it was so dark and disturbing to witness that recording was the last thing on my mind at the time. I guess I was “gawking” but it felt more like watching a horror scene that I couldn’t look away from. The gawking came from being emotionally kidnapped for a few moments :/

    • Is it wrong to ask why so many were standing around? Granted, I’m not a small guy so perhaps I feel more inherent pressure to step in, but if I saw a clearly unarmed naked person assaulting a lady, and then struggling with an older man who was clearly trying to help (not caught up in a drug deal gone wrong), I’d have trouble not jumping in.

      And, yes, I have jumped into altercations to try and calm them down, though I’ve never encountered this kind of trip so who knows.

      • I think it’s a pressure of masculinity… bigger males are expected to intervene on behalf of others, which isn’t totally fair to you, but thank you for being willing to do it when others aren’t!

      • DC is full of people divorced from the fact that the capacity and willingness to use violence in protection of your fellow humans is a key life skill to be a productive member of society. Also, we have lots of cowards who grew up in the suburbs and have never had to experience a physical altercation.

  • I was also there and called the police. You’re right that it was absolutely horrific – so much so that I cried when I was walking back home. The older gentleman who restrained him told the police when they arrived that he reeked of PCP. My heart goes out to him, I really hope he’s ok and gets the help he needs. Thankful for our neighbors who all stepped up to help.

  • I saw something very similar (but not nearly as terrifying) as to what you described, about 2 years ago in Columbia Heights. A man in his 20s or 30s with his pants around his ankles (thankfully he had boxers on) was walking back and forth, shuffling his feet through leaves on the side of a street like a zombie. Looking down the whole time and was definitely on a serious drug. Wasn’t threatening anyone but incredibly disturbing to watch. Sorry you had to see that!

  • This is pretty disturbing, but one part is funny:
    “At that point people started noticing that something wasn’t right and many of us bystanders called 911.” At THAT point you thought something wasn’t right and called the cops? Before that you describe a naked teenager who was either psychotic or high stomping angrily around and swearing and the top of his lungs, but when he assaulted a car, that was a bridge too far. I don’t know why that strikes me as really funny, but it does.

    • None of this is funny.

      Not cool to criticize the way the OP reacted.

      • but that’s what the internet was built for

      • I hope I never lose the ability to laugh at the ridiculousness life has to offer. Things can be sad, horrifying and funny at the same time.

        • You’re finding humor by criticizing someone else’s actions in a stressful situation. I guarantee that if you instead withheld judgement (or at least refrained from commenting) you would still have the “ability to laugh.”

    • I’m guessing (hoping?) that there was some cognitive delay in processing what was going on before executive functioning kicked in.

    • It was just another Saturday morning in DC until the naked kid messed with the car!

    • Typical insensitive comment made by someone who opines from the safe confines of Bethesda.

      • I put in my time in Columbia Heights. And to be clear, I’m not criticizing OP’s response, just marveling that the bar is such that a naked teenager swearing in the middle of the day was just another curiosity. That said, there’s probably something to cognitive delay to executive function theory.

        • Frankly, I agree with dcd here but I think it was probably the processing of the situation. I made a similar comment as dcd’s the other day on RRRR when someone was saying a woman was out walking around in her underwear — like, do we expect this now? Is this normal?

          • saf

            Now?

            In the 80s, I lived at 15th and O. Yeah, women walking around in their underwear was not unusual.

  • “Some compassionate woman who was standing nearby seemed worried about him being hit by a car, so she walked into the middle of the road just a few feet away from him to make sure traffic stopped. It was so brave of her. The most horrifying part came a few minutes later, when the kid stood up and lunged at the woman, grabbing a handful of her hair and pulling on her head. After she had tried to help him!”
    .
    Logic doesn’t apply when someone is experiencing a psychotic episode, unfortunately.

  • Seems like a bad episode, but I feel like I see things like this so often I barely even notice them anymore. People screaming obscenities? Acting threateningly? In various states of undress? This is pretty much par for the course any day in the summer. Do as I do and give these people a wide berth, and you’ll be fine. Trying to intervene and help them isn’t going to do any good and you’re likely just to end up attacked for your troubles like that poor woman.

    Certainly can’t get behind the slow police response, there should be permanent presence in areas like Mt. Pleasant that can respond quickly.

    • I have seen a police car posted at Lamont and Mt Pleasant in the evenings, across from the bus stop, but am not sure if it is there during the day. It is possible that this episode plus the typical increase in public intoxication during the summer months will prompt MPD to increase its presence around Lamont Park.

    • You seriously don’t notice naked people?! I’ve lived in DC for years and I can’t say I’ve ever seen a fully naked person on the street. Also, there typically is a permanent police presence in DC- there are fantastic beat officers who are usually parked near the Argyle, 7/11, or the Irving liquor store. I would assume they were called away for something else in the area at the time.

      • I can think of one time when I didn’t notice a naked person, wigging out on drugs. It was a weekend morning, I was going to get a coffee and I was pleased to notice that not only was there a space right in front of the coffee shop, there were several. I parked. Jumped out of my car and realized I had parked right next to a naked guy bugging out on the sidewalk. There was a group of people clustered at the end of the block looking at him. What can I say? I hadn’t had my coffee yet.

      • Full nudity is rarer than merely screaming obscenities or acting menacingly, but yeah, I’d say I see it at least once each summer. And I didn’t say I don’t notice them, just that I ‘barely notice’ them. Clearly I am aware of them enough to walk a few steps out of the way to get out of knife/odor range. But yeah, it’s not the kind of thing that gets my knickers in a bunch anymore, although the situations will often elicit a weary, disgusted eye roll if I happen to make eye contact with another passerby.

  • PCP is a helluva drug.

  • We saw similar incidents a few times near Shaw. It’s synthetic drugs (skooby snacks in our neighborhood). That stuff is no joke, makes people scary crazy.

  • I had a really similar experience, but with a slightly older (maybe 20s?) man. It was dark and late and I was in a hurry to get to the Emergency Room (it was a banner day for everyone). I cut through the alley to get to my car faster, and a naked man ran out of the alley and was yelling “HELP ME HELP ME!!!!” He chased after me for a bit but didn’t get very far because his pants were around his ankles. I called 911, as did two men who had been walking down the sidewalk. We all waited for police to arrive. I have no idea what was wrong with this man, but I assumed some type of drug was the culprit.

  • Unrelated, but related at the same time. I live in Truxton Circle not terribly far from SOME (So Others Might Eat), which feeds the homeless (among other services) daily. During the day there are quite a few homeless folks who wander around the neighborhood or find places to hang out during the day. In my experience, nearly all are harmless beyond simply using the alleys as restrooms and such (which is a problem, but not the worst problem to have).

    That said, there are a handful who hang around the neighborhood that seem to be mentally ill. One in particular is a 50 something white guy who paces up and down a few of the streets and is usually screaming out loud to no one in particular. Beyond the noise and just the offputting experience of seeing this, it is otherwise harmless behavior. That said, not too long ago, I saw him get into a physical fight with a man on a bike. I have no idea who started it, how it started, but it was pretty awful. It made me afraid to go near him and now I’m pretty uncomfortable whenever I see him (which is most days). I know this is a problem with no solution since there’s few resources available to the homeless who are mentally ill, but is there a solution? Is there something I should be doing here?

    • DC’s Department of Behavioral Health has a homeless services team for precisely this reason. Give them a call next time you see him- 1-888-793-4357.

      • THANK YOU for this number. Near U St., I routinely see a woman walking in the street yelling that the police are out to get everyone (but in more threatening terms) but she clearly is just off her meds. Great to have this resource available.

  • Wow. Whatever happened to waiting till happy hour in the evening to start using drugs?

  • He needed some milk.

  • I thought Sunday afternoons on busy streets were also safe, until I became a DC crime victim on Cap Hill one nice sunny Sunday afternoon. The MPD and city officials are just banking on everyone ignoring “random” incidents until they eventually go away, and it is a gamble with our public safety that is so far a losing one.

  • “At that point people started noticing that something wasn’t right “

  • Linc Park SE

    Sounds like K2. We see a number of arrestees high on that – terrible drug.

    That being said – we really need a place for the mentally ill or drug-addled who have worn out their welcome at home. What ever happened to St E’s? As a taxpayer et al – it’s frustrating to see people locked-up for strange/inappropriate/odd behavior that is determined to be (or even obviously) mental illness or drug use. Why is jail the first choice?

  • Definitely a synthetic drug episode. Saw a similar thing go down in Bloomingdale a few months back.

    • Not a good idea to get near or approach. Call 911 and help others stay away from the user. Wait for police.

  • Wow. I passed by about an hour later and bought some cookies from the girl scouts at Bancroft a bit up the road, and nothing looked amiss. I really hope those young girls didn’t have to witness this. Hope that this guy got the help he needed.

  • Sounds like a psychotic episode. Best to call 911.

  • Most have already seen this but Nat Geo did an episode of Drugs, INC where the focus was the PCP usage in the District…..

    http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/drugs-inc/episodes/pcp-in-dc/

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zx4flddUk_w

  • Two things, both understandable because of adrenaline/a scary situation — 1) after a kinda hipster guy pulled Naked PCP Guy off the woman, Naked PCP Guy reached into a passing car and grabbed a woman in that car – THAT’S when the real hero, a larger Black man, pulled Naked PCP Guy up and off to the sidewalk, telling him to “sit your ass DOWN” (which was awesome!) and restraining him, and 2) the police response was under 5 minutes, not more than 10. Again, the situation was scary and it got my pulse pounding, so it seemed like a lot of time passed, but the response was pretty quick.

  • Its called Flakka….its sold in shady convenience stores. You can look for videos on youtube

  • “I’m not sure what the ultimate point of this message is…”
    Yes, I’m not sure either. We live in a large city and crazy stuff happens all the time.

  • I’m venturing to guess that what you witnessed is a kid on PCP, which can cause one to overheat, undress, loose sense of reality or any shame, and any sense of pain and act psychotic. Unfortunately it’s a very common drug in DC. National geographic did a great documentary on it in the district.
    Hopefully he’ll find a way to care and recovery and you and the lady are also recovering from the shock.

  • An incident almost exactly like this happened a few months ago on my block. We’ve lived here (North Capital & Hanover Pl) for 3 years, been in the city for 7, and this was just crazy. One Sunday evening, around 6:30, a man, completely naked, was screaming incoherently and bagging on cars. It took 20 minutes for police to arrive, in an area where there is always a marked car parrolling. He laid in the middle of the street, screaming and rolling around for at least 10 of those. By the time they arrive, the man had passed out inside our neighbor’s gated front yard. It was a very disturbing scene as people just honked at the man while trying to get a parking spot. The responding officers told us bath salts. Props to the woman and man who got involved, I can’t say that I would’ve been that brave.

  • I live in the Argyle and witnessed the entire thing. He’s a regular customer at the Argyle convenient store and he’s not a ‘kid’ He’s a grown man and is frequently out and about walking his dog and for the most part, sober. He lives here in Mt.P.

    OP got the facts right….mostly…except for the ‘courageous woman’ part and the ineffective response part. The paramedics…not the police…were called because we didnt want the MPD showing up S.W.A.T. team style and shooting someone for having a psychotic/ drug episode. He lives in the neighborhood. We knew something was off and didnt find him scary enough to call in guns. He just needed help so we asked for ONLY paramedics not MPD, i.e., no guns please. Maybe subsequent (prior?) 911 calls asked for MPD but we were clear on that point. The police + mental health incident = disaster. Also, as you’ve probably heard, DC fire/ems has much room for improvement in response times. So, there’s youre explanation re: the police/ems response time.

    To the allegedly courageous woman, if someone is having a psychotic episode and screaming “white b**tch,” even if you do not happen to be said “white b**tch,” don’t be suprised if he tries to rip the hair out of your head, especially, if you are a white woman. And please, unless you’re properly trained, which you clearly are not, stay out of it until the professionals arrive. You were not helpful. You turned a psychotic episode (not a crime) into an assault (a crime), which if not for youre meddling, would have been only a mental health incident. You needlessly escalated situation.

    OP, I think you’re in the minority in thinking she was courageous/compassionate…he wasnt even close to being hit by a car…the cars were slowing down because of the crowd. Quite a few of us were commenting that she was attention seeking bystander. The way she sanctimoniously tried to direct traffic that didnt need directing was cringeworthy. And how did you not notice the people standing in front of the yoga studio with their phones held aloft filming the whole thing? Did you not see the guy walk onto the median strip after the woman who was attacked in the car did a u-turn and picked up her scarf to cover the guy having the episode…he was so aggressively filming that he actually moved in closer when the MPD arrived and MPD asked him sarcastically if he got everything. Seriously, it’s 2016, do you really expect anyone to believe no one had their phones out?

    • Wow. I think the person who turned a psychotic episode into a crime of assault was the cracked-out guy who pulled the hair and attacked the woman, not the woman. Jesus, way to completely absolve the naked guy of any responsibility.

      • Totally agree. That whole self-righteous account by Mtp argyle is beyond the pale. This guy apparently attacked at least two people: The police absolutely do in fact need to be called in such scenarios. To point the finger at people who tried to help (however misguidedly) is disgusting. People throw around the term “victim blaming” all the time, but here is an actual, honest-to-god example of victim blaming.

    • Wow. Apparently it’s up to you to decide whether or not guns are warranted in a situation. Because you know everything about how MPD operates and how to do their job, to a T. Talk about sanctimonious…one of the most sanctimonious posts here in a long time…

    • Kind of refreshing to hear another side on this story. I’m glad that this guy is known in the community and that people are looking out for him. Whether it’s a psychotic episode or a drug episode (or both), I agree that a medical solution is a better and more pragmatic route, and I hope he gets the help he needs. I hear all these complicated racial undertones in this telling of the story and I am trying (as a white woman) to step back and just listen.

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