Masked robbers who abducted a letter carrier and beat him over the head with a handgun Tuesday afternoon in Northeast Washington were looking for a specific package, according to a D.C. police report.
It does not appear that the robbers, one of whom was armed with a black semiautomatic handgun, got the package or that the 54-year-old U.S. Postal Service carrier had any idea what the men wanted.
The attackers forced the carrier into a van, police said, and drove off while threatening him. According to the report, they took his keys and wallet, which contained $35 and credit cards, after binding him with black tape. After a four-block ride, they shoved him out of the vehicle.
D.C. police and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are looking for two men in their mid-20s or 30s but had few other descriptive details. The report says the victim’s left eye was bruised and the left side of his head showed swelling. He also had cuts on his nose and cheek. He was treated at Howard University Hospital and released.
In November, a letter carrier was fatally shot during a robbery while making his rounds in Cheverly about 7:30 p.m. Prince George’s County police have not made an arrest in the shooting, which led to concerns among carriers about completing their rounds after dark. Last month, police in Alexandria arrested a 20-year-old man who they said was part of a group that robbed a carrier at gunpoint of his cellphone and mail.
Tuesday’s attack occurred about 4 p.m. along a residential street just north of the Catholic University campus. The letter carrier told police that he had just finished delivering mail to houses in the 200 block of Webster Street NE when two men wearing ski masks jumped out of an older-model tan van.
He said that one had a handgun and shouted, “Get in! Get in! Get in!” The carrier was forced inside the van, according to the police report, and one man started to drive as the other demanded: “You know what we want. What did you do with the package? What did you take out of the package?”
The letter carrier told police that he fought back and was hit on the side of the head with the gun, threatened and bound. Once the van reached the first block of Hawaii Avenue Northeast, one of the gunmen shoved the carrier out to the street behind a row of houses.
A spokesman for the Postal Inspection Service said that investigators have not determined a motive in the crime but that one angle being explored is whether the attackers were looking for drugs sent to an address in the neighborhood.
Postal authorities say that illegal narcotics are frequently shipped through the mail, using fake return addresses but real delivery addresses. In such cases, authorities say, observers wait for the carriers to leave the package at an address and will then grab it off the doorstep of the unsuspecting homeowner.
Postal authorities are offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to arrests and convictions in the case.