Yesterday we learned that “an individual involved in two First Degree Sexual Abuse and three Burglary One offenses” in Mount Pleasant had been arrested thanks to “A witness heard the victim’s scream and saw the suspect fleeing from the residence. The witness followed the suspect.”
That witness is Matthew Shannon-Browne. And make no mistake, the assailant would not have been caught without his selfless quick actions. I happen to know Matthew and had the opportunity to speak with him today. I learned that he chased the suspect for blocks and blocks through alleys over fences into the woods and back out again for at least 10 minutes before police arrived. The assailant told him he had a gun, threw a brick at him and despite all that Mathew never stopped his pursuit. He heard the screams from his home and made that split second decision to help. “My mother or daughter could be next if he gets away.”
Props certainly go out to the other civilians who helped, and ultimately the police who made the arrest, but without Mathew’s initial bravery this likely would have ended very differently. It’s a miracle no civilians got hurt during this chase. As a result of a few people’s actions so many can now breathe a sigh of relief. The sequence of events that went down before this guy was caught are simply extraordinary. So, I’m saying it anyway, Matthew Shannon-Browne is a straight up hero and Mount Pleasant and the District of Columbia are lucky to call him a neighbor and resident.
If you see him, buy him a beer. From now until forever. Also please read every word of his statement below. His actions were, again, extraordinary but I’d like to emphasize his last sentence: “I hope we can all take time to smile at one another, help one another and be there when others are in need.”
Statement from Matthew Shannon-Browne:
“I’m not a hero, I’m a neighbor. If we all allow ourselves to see our neighbors as our family, our sisters, our brothers, our mothers and our fathers we don’t need to protect ourselves with guns or the unnecessary use of deadly force.
The District is my home. I was raised in Mt. Pleasant and see it as an extension of my family. I live beside four households that were attacked by this man. People have been traumatized by his actions, and when I heard my neighbors scream for help and saw him fleeing their house, I instinctually knew I couldn’t allow him to get away. I instinctually knew that if I took my eyes off him he would return to hurt someone else. Maybe next time it would be my daughter, maybe my mother. I knew it wasn’t “The safe thing to do” but I knew deep down in my gut that I needed to help the police stop him. As I confronted the assailant in the alley I called 911 and began to chase him so that the police knew where exactly they could find him.
I’m saddened that people were hurt by this predator. I’m saddened that when my neighbors yelled for help in previous incidents & when I yelled for help while following him, most people ignored us and turned their attention away. I’m thankful for the three people that actually did listen as we ran down Harvard Street. and joined me in chase as we followed the assailant. As community members I think we owe one another the time to be selfless – especially in times of crisis. I think we deserve the time to care and help one another.
I appreciate all of the Thank you’s, but I don’t deserve them. I just did what I would for any of my family. I think my neighbor is the hero for getting herself and daughter out of the house & calling for help instead of giving him the power to do them harm.
I hope we can all take time to smile at one another, help one another and be there when others are in need.”
A reader notes some more disturbing background about the assailant:
“From a Washington Post article about the arrest:
[MPD Police Chief] ‘Newsham described Wilkerson “as a predator” and said he has a history of arrests; court records show convictions in the District and Maryland for sexual assault and burglary dating to 1981.
He was released from prison two months ago after being convicted in 2007 of breaking into an apartment on Irving Street, across the street from the recent incidents. He pleaded guilty to kidnapping in that case and admitted to forcibly holding a woman by the neck and threatening to shoot her as two small children she was babysitting watched.’
it seems the guy was out on parole for two months, after serving time for A SIMILAR CRIME on THE SAME BLOCK in 2007.”
Ed. Note: This is a post of gratitude not a post about gun control, we can have that discussion at another time. Thank you for understanding.