See Something Say Something or Just the Quirks of City Living?

by Prince Of Petworth September 6, 2016 at 9:50 am 38 Comments

say something
Photo by PoPville flickr user Joe Flood

“Dear PoPville,

I wanted to write to see if anyone had reported seeing a very suspicious person walking near the S Street Dog Park in Dupont on Sunday [09.04.16] night? My boyfriend and I were driving home around 9:15pm, looking for a parking spot and saw a man walking south down the middle of New Hampshire Ave. NW, and when we drove by him, he stared into our car. We saw that he was wearing a mask or had a fully painted face, a black hooded sweatshirt, and he was carrying 1-2 bags in his hands. We circled the block, found a spot, and while walking back to our house saw him again in the same spot, but on the sidewalk. Once inside our apartment, we saw he started walking north on 17th Street so we called the police. They said someone was dispatched, but we’re not sure if anything was resolved.

I was wondering if anyone else saw him? It was pretty terrifying and to add to the strangeness, there were plenty of people walking around that didn’t seem to register this guy. It was bizarre.”

  • CKN

    this is how people end up shot by police for doing absolutely nothing at all.

  • Glover Park


    • jim_ed


  • BK2H

    Good for you! I wish more people took a proactive role in their community.

    • MR

      I agree completely. Too often in this city people seem to think if it doesn’t directly affect them, then it doesn’t matter. I live in this neighborhood at 17th and Corcoran and I would have done the same thing.

  • SaraEP

    Ignore. Doesn’t sound all that weird to me much less “terrifying”.

    • FridayGirl

      +1 to the terrifying but if someone is walking in the middle of the street I think that would be enough reason to call the police and let them decide what to do about it, if anything.

      • SaraEP

        I guess but the fact that he eventually made it to the sidewalk and the OP saw that wouldn’t make me think twice. I know it sounds terrible but I see people walking in the middle of the street so often that calling the police wouldn’t even cross my mind.

      • PA2DC

        My friend walks down the middle of the street to go home on weekend nights as chances are no one is going to mug the guy walking down the middle of the street.

        • SaraEP

          Agree. Can’t say I haven’t done it myself actually.

  • Bort

    HE STARED INTO YOUR CAR!?!?! I can’t imagine how you are coping with this trauma. Better release the dogs with bees in their mouth and when they bark they shoot bees at you!

    • stacksp

      lol he LOOKED in a car that drove past him so he must be a threat to society

      • GBinCH

        If the guy is wearing a mask, is it not reasonable to assume he’s trying to conceal his identity? Could be someone looking to break into a house. I saw someone in my buildings parking lot looking through the windows of all the cars…perhaps he’s just a car aficionado, or maybe he’s looking for something to steal. Either way, I still interrupted him and kept an eye on him as he walked down the road (stopping to look in the windows of other cars).
        There may be a perfectly normal reason someone would be covering their face inn public, but I don’t fault the OP for being wary in this situation.

        • stacksp

          Agreed. The car appeared to be moving and not parked so it doesnt strike me as that out of the ordinary but the mask thing is a bit suspicious. Guess its better to be safe than sorry

        • Joysbrother

          Two words for a perfectly normal reason someone would be wearing a mask in public: crystal meth.

    • Tom

      My son is also named Bort

  • stacksp

    Mask or painted face? Quite the distinction else its just a guy with a black hoodie carrying two bags up the street.

  • HaileUnlikely

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Were the post about calling 911 upon seeing a group of teen-agers loitering next to an ATM, people would demand OP be charged with a hate crime and executed. Were the post about somebody who was attacked by a large group of teen-agers in the middle of the afternoon in Mount Pleasant, the exact same people would call you negligent for not calling 911 upon seeing a group of more than two teen-agers on the sidewalk together unsupervised.

    • wdc

      Pretty much this. I’m thinking that a person who wanders around a city wearing a mask or full face paint does so with the knowledge that someone will call the cops, and he has assumed that risk.
      But the risk of the cops’ attention is way out of proportion to any realistic risk he poses. That is, yeah, he might break a car window. But if the cops come, he might get shot. Breaking car windows isn’t a capital crime, so I can’t get on board with that.
      It’s honestly a tough call.

      • HaileUnlikely

        Excluding Halloween and other themed events in which a large number of people wearing masks all get together (e.g., Guy Fawkes day), if I see somebody wearing a mask or other clothing that is clearly being worn in such a way as to conceal one’s identity when the weather is such that it would be seriously uncomfortable for a normal person to do so, I can’t help but suspect the worst. I mean, it’s probably something I see a couple times a year tops, and one of those times the warm-weather-mask-wearer robbed me at gunpoint. Another time one ran through my yard after having just stolen from one of my neighbors. Although there have also been times when I have seen warm-weather-mask-wearers hand they have not to my knowledge attacked anybody, it’s a sort of thing that, given the strangeness and the personal experience, sets off alarm bells for me.

        • FridayGirl


  • John

    I’ll chalk this up to “quirks of city living.”

  • Anon

    I frequently wear a painted face while carrying multiple bags. Am I a predator or a woman with makeup?

    • Anonymous


      • Anon


    • Anon

      Depends on the bags.

  • ExWalbridgeGuy

    I guess it’s odd to walk in the middle of the street while wearing a mask, but I’m not totally seeing what’s terrifying from the story here. The fact that the other people on the street didn’t seem to think much of it suggests that maybe you spotted an oddball, but not quite the villain of a horror movie?

  • skj84

    Cosplayer out shopping? Obviously not something you see everyday, but there are a lot of events in this city that encourage costumes so maybe not that strange. The walking in the middle of the street would give me pause, not so much the attire.

  • Anon

    I live in this neighborhood, and while I didn’t see the incident the OP describes, I think I’ve seen this person before. He wears all black, heavy clothes, and carries around several black trash bags. While I’ve not seen him engage in any overtly suspicious behavior, which is why I haven’t called the cops, I do have to say that he has a vibe that puts me on edge. He makes me uncomfortable, or makes me feel vulnerable, but again, hasn’t done anything specific that I feel warrants a call to the cops. I will say when he is walking down the sidewalk behind me I walk past my building and then circle around instead of entering in front of him, which is something I have never done in other situations. So I feel bad that the OP is getting a lot of flack, and wanted to chime in and say that I understand the instinct that it was a bizarre or strange interaction.

    • LittleBluePenguin

      yeah, I know some people will give flak, but honestly, if you’re tuned in to your gut, and your gut is telling you that something is off, you should 100% go with your gut. Maybe that means you call the cops, maybe that means you walk to a different building, maybe that means you cross to the other side of the street. And maybe that means you get tagged as racist or age-ist or sexist or something, but you know what? I’m not risking my safety to appear better than I am, if my gut is telling me to move it.

      • textdoc

        +1. Gavin de Becker’s “The Gift of Fear” is all about paying attention to your gut instinct.

    • MR

      +1 Agree completely.


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