Washington, DC


via google maps

“Dear PoPville,

I was mugged half a block from my house on 13th St NW between Harvard and Girard on Sunday night at 5:40 pm. After the first robbery in August when my phone was stolen from me 2 blocks from home, I had bought a phone wrist strap to secure it to my wrist, which prevented the SECOND robbery in September from occurring when someone else tried to snatch it from me outside Smitty’s, a nearby bar where I was working on the weekends. The first two robberies occurred even earlier in the day than this one.

YES, this is the THIRD time I’ve been robbed in 3 months, and all have been in Ward 1.

This time, he ran up behind me and snatched the phone out of my hand. I had just taken it out to change the song because I was supposed to see Big Thief that night. (Heard it was a great show.) The wrist strap wouldn’t break so he shoved me hard to the ground until it broke. He started running away, and I started running after him (I KNOW, NOT SMART, but instinctual), and he turned around and punched me in the head.

I turned so he just caught the back of my head. I turned and he punched me again. Later, the detectives took me to that spot, and we luckily found my AirPods that he had knocked out of my ears.

Some have already said I should not have been wearing headphones even though it was not late in the day, and I know I should not have chased after him. I was not wearing headphones the other 2 times I was robbed / the attempted robbery. Please be kind in the comments. It is easy to judge when you’re not the one with bruises on your face.

He was wearing darkish blue jeans and a black hoodie with a ski mask that covered the lower part of his face. To me, he looked like the Grim Reaper in sneakers. He was maybe 5’11” and thin. Late teens to early twenties. Medium brown complexion. In fact, he closely resembles the first man who robbed me, who was wearing the same kind of ski mask and also ran up from behind me to steal my phone out of my hand. Same build, same M.O. I would not be surprised if they were the same person and suspect they could be.

He ran across Harvard and I hoped he’d get hit by a car. I chased him, screaming, “HELP ME! HE STOLE MY PHONE! HELP!” but no one came. I chased him into the parking lot and then the courtyard of one of the projects, still screaming, which a witness must have heard because they called the police. I saw him cut across Columbia and go into another project’s courtyard so I tracked along the outside of the building to see if I could head him off. I briefly followed a teen in a black hoodie but then decided for safety to get the policeman who was inside 7-11.

The policemen (so many of them came, too late) made an ambulance come to check out the bleeding from my head. It was all over my jacket. I declined a hospital visit because it’s just a small cut, and I thought going to the emergency room would be more traumatizing than the scar. I just wanted to wash the blood out of my hair.

I am fine. I have some scrapes on my knees and on my elbow and a big bruise on my arm from when he shoved me. One side of my face is puffy and one of my lymph nodes is swollen (didn’t happen till I got home), which I read can happen after hits to the head. I thought he’d hit the back of my head both times, but after some of the puffiness subsided on Tuesday, I saw bruises that looked like knuckles on my jawline so he must have clipped me there.

I’m so mad at myself that my phone was in my hand but my pepper spray wasn’t. (It all happened too quickly to get it out until I was running through the parking lot.) I’d even had the phone tucked to my side – How did he see it in a black case next to my black jacket on a shady street? Was he stalking me?

I have been taking anxiety medication frequently and recently started PTSD therapy due to the robberies. I am sure this will be prolonged due to this latest attack. I had a few panic attacks while talking to the officers that night but didn’t have any meds in my gym bag. I had been coming home from yoga.

Obviously, it is time that I move out of Columbia Heights if not DC or the entire DMV completely. I am frequently in Kansas City for work and expect to travel there 2-4 times per month for the next 4-6 months or longer. I had already planned to spend my remote weeks traveling and working from interesting locations, so perhaps I’ll box everything up in storage and live out of a suitcase for a while. I don’t know. Suggestions appreciated.

I grew up in Fairfax, and my family is now all in Rockville. I’ve lived in this neighborhood (or in nearby Pleasant Plains 3 blocks away) for over 5 years. This area has always been home. I had never felt unsafe until a few months ago. There are now regularly heroin deals and addicts on my corner. The second time someone tried to steal my phone, it was a kid maybe 15 years old, on a bike.

I have really loved living in this vibrant community that is just minutes from all my favorite places (9:30 Club, DC9, Black Cat, American Ice Co… so many more). An old man walking on 2 canes yelled at me that day on my way to the metro, “Beautiful smile!” I worry about my landlords who live upstairs, who are very kind and are expecting their first baby next month. Will the baby be safe? The mugging happened next to a daycare and there are schools on that road. What will happen to that old man? The first thing I did before even washing my hair was to knock on my landlords’ door and give them my notice. They gave me a hug.

I wrote this to make others aware of just how bad the crime has gotten, although I’m sure most have seen the daily reports of shootings. And I wrote this so that I don’t have to keep telling people what happened to me because it is exhausting and upsetting.

If there is any political activism I can become involved in, please also let me know. Stay safe, everyone.”

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