“Does he have anything else?” one of the men asked.
Gordon heard them move away. Slowly, he rose and staggered over the embankment onto the Route 66 exit to Glebe Road, where cars were stopped at a red light. A woman rolled down her window and asked whether he needed help. He asked her to call 911.
A noise made Gordon turn his head. The woman in the car gasped. “Oh, my God,” she said. He touched his ear, and his white running glove came back covered in blood.
* * *
The random attack took only a few moments, bringing together a 55-year-old personal trainer and two brothers, one who said he was looking for money to buy drugs. But it changed Gordon’s life, he said, leaving him with nightmares, headaches and fear.
The criminal case ended last week when Robert Thomas, 23, of the District was sentenced to 10 years in prison in the robbery. Andre Thomas, 17, who also was convicted, will serve a sentence that will be determined by the juvenile-justice department. Guidelines suggest 18 to 36 months in prison.
During a hearing Friday in Arlington Circuit Court, Robert Thomas told the judge that he was high on PCP the day of the robbery. As a child, he said, he’d run away from a foster home after being abused. He said he was not taking the medication he had used in the past for bipolar disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression, and he wanted cash for a drug buy.
“I am truly, deeply sorry,” Robert Thomas said in court as his uncle and father looked on. “I will not go back out there and cause any more trouble.”
Prosecutors said the series of events leading to the Jan. 10 attack were set in motion when Robert Thomas and another person decided to go to Arlington and rob a cellphone store. Andre Thomas thought it was a bad idea. So, prosecutors said, they settled on a simpler plan: Get out at the Ballston Metro station, head to the trail and find someone to rob.
Robert Thomas said in court that he didn’t want to hurt anybody. The gun wasn’t even loaded.
The first guy they stopped kept running and went on to call 911, prosecutors said. By the time Gordon came by, the three men had settled on a tighter formation: Andre Thomas was the lookout, and the third man hit Gordon with the gun, prosecutors said.
After the attack, the Thomas brothers fled toward the Metro station but were caught. The other robber was not found. The brothers said they don’t know the third person’s name, their attorneys said.
Andre and Robert Thomas are from a troubled family, Deborah Cason Daniel, who has been guardian ad litem for them, testified at an earlier court hearing. There were eight siblings; one was fatally struck by a car when she was a toddler. All five brothers have been involved in the criminal-justice system, Daniel said in court. Two sisters became mothers while in their teens, and their children were taken away because of neglect, she said, adding that the siblings’ parents are intellectually disabled; their mother struggles with drugs, their father with alcohol.