Robbery on Met Branch Trail Friday Morning

by Prince Of Petworth July 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm 32 Comments

From MPD:

Unfortunately I must again inform the community of an incident that occurred on the trail yesterday morning. At about 8:15 AM a male victim was robbed on the trail alongside 300 R St. NE. The victim was walking on the trail and was approached by the suspect who asked for the time of day. The victim then retrieved his I-phone to the give the time and tried to walk away. However, the suspect brandished a handgun and robbed the victim of hi phone and wallet. There were no injuries.

The suspect was an 18-21 year old black male, 5’8″-5’9″ in height, weighing about 165 lbs. The suspect was also reportedly wearing glasses with dark frames. The tactic used by this suspect is very common, i.e. asking for time. Also be aware that walking alone and with your ear-buds in can make you an inviting target – it’s something we see on the Metro, for example, all too often.

I want to again ask everyone to be very cautious, to be aware of your surroundings, and to be wary of anything or anyone that is suspicious. Please call it in to 911. We do have officers giving the trail special attention 24 hours a day, so we are close by.

I also want to review the events of the last few months, and the strides the community has made in securing the trail. Unfortunately, I have seen some news outlets reporting information that is not entirely accurate.

Between May 5th and June 9th there were five incidents of concern on the trail. All were similar in time of occurrence, suspect description and methods. There was a taser brandished in one assault, but no one was ever tasered on the trail that I am aware of. MPD officers did recover a taser during the investigation of the incidents. In the last event on June 9th, MPD effected an arrest. There were no incidents after that until July 9th, when a robbery occurred at 11 PM on the trail. Now, on July 15th, we’ve had a robbery at 8:15 AM.

I do think we were successful in breaking the cycle of crimes that were occurring in May and June. We are now seeing some new developments and I ask for the community’s support as we investigate and address these. Being informed and aware is half the battle. With the additional steps taken, such as citizen patrols, and with continued diligence, I believe the community and MPD can provide a safe environment on the MBT.

Sergeant Jon Dorrough
Metropolitan Police Department
Washington, D.C.
Fifth District

We spoke about the troubles in May and June here and here.

  • Susan

    So they probably arrested the guy for the May/June robberies and he is now out of jail and robbing people again

    • Seatonite

      Yes – can we again remind voters that this is the council’s (sponsored by Phil Mendelson) grand master plan at work – thanks Phil! ;)

  • er

    Come out and join the Guardian Angels and local citizens for our weekly patrol of the Met Branch Trail! We will be out on the Trail this Wednesday and Thursday, 6-8pm both days, meeting at the pocket park at 4th and S streets NE.

    Sign up here!: http://tinyurl.com/MBTSafetyPatrol

    I’ve been going for the past 3 weeks – it’s easy to be involved, you’re always with a group, and it’s a great chance to meet neighbors, get to know the trail, and make a difference in our community. Sign up and come check it out this week!

    • Jay


      Have you done this yourself? Like the idea, but have a bad impression of the “Guardian Angels” re their effectiveness and rhetoric. What does the “training” entail?

      • er

        Yes, I’ve gone to all three patrols so far. The purpose of the patrols is to have “eyes on the trail” and to act as a presence; there’s no actively engaging perpetrators or anything, no learning karate or making citizen’s arrests. We walk and bike up and down the patrol, keep an eye out for any activity, make note of any potential hot spots (where incidents have taken place, where there are breaks in fences, etc).

        I’d definitely encourage you to come out this Wednesday or Thursday, at least to see what it’s like and ask questions of the Angels that are there and the other volunteers. The goal is to have the patrol be led and continued by the neighborhood and volunteers. I’d be happy to speak with you more myself, as well!

        PS: there have also been some articles about the patrols, see this one here: http://www.tbd.com/blogs/tbd-on-foot/2011/07/guardian-angels-now-patrol-the-metropolitan-branch-trail–11736.html

        • er

          *walk and bike up the trail, that is, not up the patrol!

  • Maire

    Don’t pull our your phone or wallet in a circumstance like that. Sheesh.
    (And no I’m not blaming the victim. The robbery was going to happen whether he pulled out his phone or politely declined, sounds like).

  • Anonymous

    I was in NYC and Brooklyn this past weekend and robbings, muggings, petty crime virtually non-existent. Why is this so prevalent in DC, what is going on here. If NYC can get its s*it together why can’t we.

    A cabbie said it was b/c of Gulianni, lets do whatever they did. DC is just full of too many no-good-doers, everyday its a murder here, a robbery here, a police chopper flying over the hood. ITS JUST OUT OF CONTROL and the MAYOR IS COMPLICIT.

    • anon

      Gulianni for Mayor!!!

    • elcal

      Some crime is actually ticking up (2 year avg) in NYC. Certainly not on magnitudes of pre-1990s NYC, though.

      Why don’t we ever speak of how far DC came since that period also? People consistently speak of how great Giuliani was and how NYC did it, why can’t we–but we did do it AND under Barry (-27%). This city thrives too much on its own victimhood.

      Of course, how much any crime stat is attributable to a mayor is highly debatable.


      • Uh Huh

        I live in BK. Bed Stuy. My neighborhood has worse demographics than Petworth. Lower incomes. Lower education. But the majority of the people are immigrants. Yes, they are black. But many are African or Caribbean. It is my opinion that these people do not commit as much crime as black Americans. Well, at least not in NYC.

        I own a home in Petworth. A more affluent Petworth is much more dangerous than a poor immigrant neighborhood in NYC. The only thing that is different would be the people.

        • anon

          Yeah those West Indian gangs and Jamaican posse’s are just cupcakes compared to Black Americans. You know Biggie Smalls, who was perhaps Bed Stuy’s most famous resident, is of Jamaican descent and he was America’s angel. The people are not that different.

    • Sir Douchy

      “I was in NYC and Brooklyn this past weekend and robbings, muggings, petty crime virtually non-existent.”
      According to the NYPD stats there have been 9,359 robberies in NYC this year (through 7/10/11). I wouldn’t call that “virtually non-existent.”

      • elcal


        Don’t upset the fantasy that “weekend in NYC = living in DC”

    • Maire

      How do you know it was non-existent?

      Most people on this board think crime is non-existent in their neighborhoods, too ;-)

      • Lynn

        Spot on.

  • LisaT

    “I was in NYC and Brooklyn this past weekend and robbings, muggings, petty crime virtually non-existent.”


  • spookiness

    Thats a good strategy. Ask for the time, see what kind of phone they whip out, then decide whether to rob or move on to the next victim. I guess I’m seriously showing my age since I wear a watch.

    • Anonymous

      I want a gun watch

      • JDC

        +1 – or an App for the Iphone that turns it into a taser and/or switchblade

        • anon

          There’s a Glock for that.

  • Jay


    Have you done this yourself? Like the idea, but have a bad impression of the “Guardian Angels” re their effectiveness and rhetoric. What does the “training” entail?

  • Anonymous

    I consider this trail virtually unusable because of incidents like this. I know the cops and guardian angels have been patrolling, but it is still super sketchy.

  • MBT Rider

    I am 100% positive I rode past this kid along with some others about 5 minutes before. Me being on my bike moving at a good clip probably was too difficult of a target. As I passed them I thought to myself “probably up to no good” then I felt a guilty as just assuming a group of young black kids were looking for trouble. STUPID ME, I know better. It is the same culprit every time… young black male. Police or anyone for that matter should be aware of anyone fitting this description walking or sitting on the benches of the MBT trail. If you think this is profiling then change the profile. Don’t see any other way of keeping DC’s working contributing citizens safe.

    • Lynn

      interesting…in a city where regular working folk can not afford to live in areas that are safer…or am I incorrect? Unfortunately, too many young black males are to stupid to channel their engery into something positive; something that takes more time, commitment.
      But, there is a large portion of ‘upwardly’ mobile types in the city. The poor or disenfranchised can only be pushed into PG County so much. I don’t know what the answer is. Tired of both factions, honestly. It would be appreciated if more ‘regular’ folk were located in this city…and less of the other two I addressed.

  • Local PW

    Seems like a series of cameras set up along the trail and wired into MPD would be a good deterant as well as helping I-D suspects after the fact.

    • Anonymous

      +1 what is taking them so long to do this?

  • MBT Runner

    Well, looks like I will be skipping my jog tonight… not a lot I can do against a gun.

    I know personally, I’ve made mental notes of where the loose bricks are on the trail, as if that was some sort of effective defense. Unfortunately, the only time I ever picked one up was when I got confused about the group of people coming towards me who turned out to be the Guardian Angels.

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps the city could respond to my multiple requests to clean up all the graffiti from Takoma all the way to Union Station. In that part of town, they tolerate more than just children with guns don’t they.

  • anon

    been on the the trail a hundred times and never any problem, not to say thugs aren’t using it for easy targets as sometimes happened on the rock creek trail around the zoo in the past. point is, the trail is safe, just be aware of your surroundings. kudos to the proactiveness of the community.

  • That’s What Shaw

    Walking home after midnight, I’ve been asked for the time by the same guy about half-dozen times. He usually shouts the question from about 10-30 feet away.

    I usually say I don’t have a watch as I keep walking. I always thought it weird that a guy who seems to aimlessly wander the streets at night would care so much for the exact time.

    Sgt. Dorrough’s e-mail puts these encounters in a new light. Have I been dodging robberies?

  • Lynn

    He is looking for a victim..someone who will take the time to pull out a goodie (phone, watch) so he can steal it. Being naive is okay, just know that it can result in one being targeted. Keep in mind, that no matter how low the murder rate, robbery rate is being touted as being, we are still in a concrete jungle. Recognize.


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