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More Trouble on the Metropolitan Branch Trail

by Prince Of Petworth June 2, 2011 at 1:30 pm 79 Comments

“Dear PoPville,

Last night I was biking along the Metropolitan Branch Trail just south of Rhode Island Ave when two young males tried to force me off my bike with a taser. When I was first approaching them I scolded myself for thinking that two young black males were acting suspicious because they were just sitting on the trail (one on each side) and appeared to be just waiting for someone to come along. It turns out that heightened suspicion may have saved me because I spotted the taser in the assailants hand and swerved enough at the last second to avoid being jolted by it. I heard it and saw the “spark” but he just about completely missed me, I’ve felt a larger shock when I was plugging in a lamp.

As soon as I was out of sight I called 911, and give props to the cops there were two squad cars there on the trail within a few minutes. Of course by then the perps were gone, I wasn’t expecting them to be dumb enough to stick around. After the cops took my report they told me this is not uncommon on this part of the trail, especially between the hours of 2 and 9 pm (after school hours) and it is probably a good idea to avoid that part of the trail between NY Ave and Rhode Island Ave completely.

The cops said this was the first they had heard of a taser being used, and that normally it is 4 or 5 assailants that will just knock bikers off their bike and rob them. I just wanted to try to spread word to bikers/runners about this part of the trail, had I heard this warning before last night I would’ve thought twice about riding there alone. I guess it’s back to the overcrowded VA bike trails for me.”

  • Sick and Tired

    Amazing, they tolerate the thugs they know frequent the place and tell citizens, just avoid using the public resource (like it is reserved for robberies). Ms. Groomes, what is up with that!

    • Anonymous

      Right, like it’s Gray’s idea of a good summer jobs program. Just go rob those Maryland and DC bike commuters, we will let you get away with it. No worries.

    • Anonymous

      Makes sense. If people avoid the trail crime stats will go down.

    • rooty tooty

      Seriously. Send some undercover bike cops out there (on undercovery bikes) to ride. Doesn’t seem that hard – and the look of surprise alone when the cop tases back would be priceless.

      • Bloomingdalian


        That would be AMAZING!

        Can we post this on an MPD blog??

  • elizqueenmama

    ARGH! Avoiding that area is the WORST POSSIBLE REACTION!
    I cannot believe that the cops told the writer to avoid that area. The only way to make it better is to have MORE people on the trail!
    More people = more eyes = more likely to be seen/caught = less likely to targets

    • Anonymous

      As a neighbor of this trail, I completely agree. I think the neighborhood should organize safety walks. I need the exercise and I’m sure if there were a group of 5 or more, little punk kids wouldnt have nearly the level of bravado.

      • Dr Pangloss

        Better yet, public safety rides. One small woman riding about 5 seconds ahead of a pack of 20 guys…with u-locks.

        Seriously, if someone wants to organize a nightly ride, I’m sure they’d get a lot of takers. Maybe its time to give the scumbags something to be afraid of.

        • nettie

          I will volunteer to be the bait. ulock bait

        • Brock

          I’ll be one of the guys.

      • Dartagnan

        Also Agree
        – The first time I used the trail, from Brookland to NY Ave there was no one else on it. Know there are more riders using it and I feel safer. Its too bad that this has happened, because people will start to avoid the trail if this problem persists!

  • dj_woowoo

    Just a shame this awesome trail is being hijacked by young hoodlums. I’ve started carrying my U lock in my hand when I ride on the trail ready to defend myself if I come upon these punks.

    Can we get cops on bikes, segways or even motorcycles to patrol this trail during these times? Haven’t there been enough incidents to warrant this?

    What else can be done about this?

    • anon

      Carry a bigger Taser.

      Or a gun.

    • Bill


      • Dr Pangloss

        heh. Ok, that’s pretty funny.

    • greent

      Grandpa having a WWII flashback, patrolling the area on a recumbent bicycle with 2 AK’s mounted on the handle bars, shouting ‘Die nazi scum’??

      • anon

        Ever see the movie Harry Brown. Personally, I think a knife through the heart is just the kind of ‘intervention’ these thugs need.

        • Bring The Pain

          AMEN!!! Let’s put a severed head on a pole right near where these attacks happen!

    • anon

      Predator drones armed with Hellfire missiles.

    • Geezer

      Or plain-clothes cops to ride the trail and nab the thugs when they will invariably try to rob them.

      • anon

        That’s entrapment! Racist entrapment!

        • Anonymous

          no it isn’t.

        • TaylorStreetMan

          Gentrification on Wheels!

        • notanerd

          i hate when morons don’t know the definition of entrapment.

    • anon

      Guard Duck

    • anon

      Nuke it from orbit.

    • OP

      I meant to mention that the cops did say that they have several cops on bikes patrolling the trail on Saturday’s through Tuesday’s, but a lot of good that did me riding on a Wednesday. And I overheard them referring to a Detective so and so, maybe they have more than just regular patrol officers working on this but who knows.

      I’m not here to defend or attack the police or the system (I’ll leave that to everyone else) but I have to say as a first time “victim” it felt AWESOME to see the patrol cars show up so quickly speeding down the trail toward where the perps were

      • El Gringo

        +1 Constructive reaction

  • spookiness

    Depressing. But not surprising.

  • me

    What. The. Hell.

    Sorry to the OP. That must have been horrible.

  • anon

    I thought Tasers were illegal in DC?

    • anon

      By the way, this is a rhetorical joke; knowing some of the responses here, I half expect people to think I’m serious.

      • TaylorStreetMan

        you’re right to CYA! :-)

  • MK

    Are there cameras anywhere on the trial?

    • Jamie

      So we can watch youtube videos of people being taken down by tasers? Seriously, what use would they be?

      Cameras don’t really have any substantive effect on crime, and are usually completely useless for identifying people who commit crimes as well. The footage is occasionally, but still rarely, useful in court after the fact.

  • Andy(2)

    Ugh…Glad it ended well for the biker.

  • Bring The Pain

    I can only hope that the thugs will get terribly itchy rashes in unreachable places.

    I’d hope for worse for them, but then some schmuck on here would tell me they already have it bad enough.

  • anon

    DC cops are completely useless. If they know it’s a bad area, if they KNOW this is happening, why aren’t they running stings? Just put an undercover woman cop on a bike. DC cops are completely USELESS.

    • Other anon

      The cops aren’t the problem. It’s the laws and the judicial system, which are very lenient with juvenile offenders. Most cops won’t put a lot of effort into catching teens committing crimes, because they know that those teens won’t get punished. So don’t blame the cops — blame the broken juvenile justice system. Or, better yet, don’t just blame that system, work to get it changed.

      • victoria

        This is a bigger pathology. This is predatory behavior intending to hurt unknown people for perverse satisfaction. (What idiot actually expects to get much from robbing a biker?) Police should do more to patrol & inform, but there is a deep cultural/human failure here – seriously different from the usual tossing of urine or drinks on people on bike trails.

  • Dan


  • LisaT

    Sorry, OP. That truly sucks. Glad you weren’t hurt.

  • J

    This kind of nonsense will continue until people start fighting back. The police can’t protect you. Stand up for yourself.

    • Anonymous

      what would you have done in that situation?

      • J

        I’d have swung my skateboard at the guy with the taser. sure, i may end up getting my ass beat, but I’d rather take my chances in a fight than take my chances with the DYRS/MPD actually doing their job and arresting/incarcerating these kids.

        • Anonymous

          at what point do you kick up your skateboard? when you see them? when they take a swing? do you really think you’ll have time to do that?
          if so, care to teach lessons?

      • Anonymous
        • Ms. D

          Pepper spray is always a good idea. But make sure you get some that has a strong spray to reduce blowback (as the website you posted seems to have) and learn how to use it. Using it while riding is particularly dangerous as that significantly increases the risk of blowback. You don’t want to incapacitate yourself while trying to escape a mugger/robber. Also, make sure you can access it quickly. Simply tossing it in your purse or keeping it in your pocket along with keys and other do-dads will make it substantially less effective as you want to be able to yank it out quickly, disperse, and flee. You can’t really do that if you have to search for it or drop something while removing it from your purse/bag/pocket. I use one of these http://www.amazon.com/MASTER-MAGNETICS-07287-ROUND-MAGNET/dp/B000N8OYF6 to hold my pepper spray onto the metal decoration on the handle of my purse…a good yank and it will come right off. An extendable ID holder like many employees use for their badges, clipped onto your waistband works well, too.

        • anon

          What about an airhorn? You could probably hurt someone’s face/eardrums with one and the noise could draw police to the scene.

  • The Hard Reality

    “After the cops took my report they told me this is not uncommon on this part of the trail, especially between the hours of 2 and 9 pm (after school hours)”

    I wish that we could just figure out where these kids are coming from. Maybe there’s some sort of school nearby that deals with at-risk youth located near the trail. Perhaps someplace like this place: http://www.sesi-schools.com/high_road_upper_school_of_washington_dc/

  • Frank

    Most likely they are wards of DYRS.

    And I’m sure attacking bikers is a cultural thing.

  • Anonymous

    If only we could get the park police over there they would beat down everybody, especially the dancers.

  • Anon

    No Donut shops on the trail no cops on the trail! Sorry just felt snarkey.
    While I’m sure for every bad cop experience people posted someone could counter with a good experience. I discovered one morning that my house was robbed. Since I was home sleeping on the upper floor this is considered a home invasion. I called 911 the next day and no police showed up and someone was at the house the entire day. It wasn’t until the following day that I realized items were missing and had to flag down an officer driving by. He was a “high ranking officer “ and informed me “he didn’t do those reports” and would call someone. Two officers showed up and took a report that I am sure ended up in the trash can because my report never made it to crime blotter. Bottom line I hope I am never on the wrong side of the law in DC.

    • notanerd

      you mean a victim?

  • J

    *orders long-distance pepper spray*

    “Let’s put a severed head on a pole right near where these attacks happen!”
    HAHAHA, thanks for adding some laughter to my day. :)

  • carbs for all

    Other than for short distances, I wouldn’t bike, walk, or run in any part of the city where there aren’t people around. Maybe Glover Park; I usually feel pretty safe over there.

  • Anonymous

    I am so sick of this shit. Do they have any idea how damaging they’re being? To the victim, to themselves, to their children’s children? Just hearing this story will make me suspicious of youths I might see in the neighborhood, a suspicion that my kids will definitely pick up on subconsciously, and that they will then pass down to their own kids. Fucking mess.

    • Anonymous

      of course they don’t. they’re kids.

  • Manpuu puu

    why don’t the metro cops who bodyslammed the guy in the wheelchair patrol this area?

    • Anonymous

      answer: jurisdiction.

  • Tata

    You were unlucky to be by yourself. I would be glad to lend some helps and beat the shit out of these punks.

  • Brookland Rez

    I’ve taken the trail home later at night, like 11pm. I’ve seen teenagers tagging buildings at that time, and a few homeless people. But it’s been about 6 months since I’ve done this.

  • S

    Wow I was just on that exact part of the trail during that time period

    Can’t believe that statistically I was actually in danger..

    These stories just make me sick.. I think I am going to have to start doing my biking/jogging with pepper spray in hand… Damn it would be satisfying to enact some vigilante justice on some of these predatory little scumbags

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like the exact same thing that happened to me on the trail a few weeks ago minus the taser. Fox 5 did an interview about the incident. Stay safe!



    • Anonymous

      how are you recovering?

      • TK

        Cast on my right arm for the next 6 weeks…I’m really pissed but still riding my bike. Thanks for asking.

  • Anonymous

    I’d love to see a story some day where some punk tries doing this to a krav maga expert or a green beret and ends up having his neck snapped.

    • Andy(2)

      I know someone in DC who did that very thing a few years ago. A little buzzed walking home from a club someone jumped him and tried to take his wallet. He had a knife but the guy got his ass kicked and then drug three blocks by the victim to a cop. The cops called the next day to give the victim an “atta boy” and to let him know the guy went the hospital with a busted-up shoulder.

  • The Hard Reality

    I just caught two kids with a taser on the trail. They are now in custody. Please call the police to see if you can identify them.

    • b

      Obvious troll is obviously a troll.

    • notanerd

      +1,000,000. Way to go!!!
      …or just wait til tomorrow, when they’ll be back out there.

  • Joey

    if i saw two black teenagers sitting on either side of anything at 9pm i’d assume they were up to no good. who would just be hanging out like that? in fact i would assume it was some elaborate trip-wire situation.

  • Elle

    This is NOT the first time a taser has been used there!

    Tuesday night a girl in my building (I live on RI NE) had two young me attempt to use a taser on her just below that underpass (she was walking home from the Metro). A few minutes later, another young woman was mugged in front of our building — no taser used, but the descriptions of the kids was close enough that it might have been the same two.

    If you are still in touch with the police about this incident, please tell them to look at their reports from Tuesday night about another taser attack in that area.

  • Sully

    This would be a good area for someone get all “Hobo with a Shot” crazy. Any volunteers?

  • NovaGurl

    Leave your liberal guilt at home next time too, and use your street smarts instead of scolding yourself when your instincts kick in. Sorry, but that’s life in DC.

    • badger


    • pond

      i know a lot of liberals. none of them have liberal guilt. it does not go hand in hand.

  • Ophelia

    Racial Hate Crimes

  • badger

    Ray Lewis warned us about this. Without a football season we are going to see crime and evil absolutely explode!


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