Suspects charged in Capitol Hill robbery are linked to at least 9 other attacks
By Peter Hermann,
Police have arrested five men they say are part of a group that is connected to at least nine attacks in the District, including a violent August robbery near Eastern Market, the District’s police chief said Thursday.
Authorities indicated in October that three suspects charged in connection with the attack on Thomas C. Maslin could be linked to other crimes. Chief Cathy L. Lanier’s comments, made on WTOP (103.5 FM), were the first time police had specified a total number of attacks or indicated that two additional arrests had been made.
The men most recently arrested were not identified. It was unclear when they were arrested, and Cmdr. George Kucik said in an interview that because the arrests were made more than three days ago, they were part of criminal history and could not by law be made public.
Not everyone in the group participated in every robbery, Lanier said, but she described the spree as unusually violent. Kucik, who heads the criminal investigation section, said the men worked as a group and detectives think they have all the members in custody.
Lanier called for tougher laws to classify robberies that result in victims being physically injured.
“There really should be a whole different view on how you view someone who commits a robbery who just takes your property, versus somebody who injures you,” the chief said on the radio.
Kucik said the violence associated with some of the robberies being committed in the District has angered officials, which is why Lanier wants to seek legislation that would result in “enhanced penalties” for robberies that result in physical injury.
“We have a lot of robberies in which the complainant cooperated, yet despite cooperating, got beat really bad,” Kucik said.
Maslin, 29, who was robbed of his phone and credit cards as he walked home from a Capitol Hill bar after having attended a baseball game, was one of those severely injured. He was found unconscious on the porch of a home hours after he had been attacked with a baseball bat and hit with a gun.
His wife, Abigail, went public with the story, which has helped keep the case in the news and given a face to the issue of violent robberies in Washington.
After Maslin was attacked, police said, the three suspects went to Adams Morgan and robbed another man. They were quickly arrested by police but weren’t linked to the Maslin case until late September, after police released video from a Capitol Hill gas station where Maslin’s credit card was used.
Detectives then got a tip that linked the suspects to both crimes. Police said that a cellphone found at the Adams Morgan scene and stored in evidence was then found to be Maslin’s.
The three suspects arrested in September — each charged with two counts of robbery while armed — have been identified as Tommy T. Branch, 21, of Fort Washington, Sunny Kuti, 17, of Southeast Washington and Michael Moore, 18, of Landover.
Branch and Kuti have status hearings scheduled for Thursday in D.C. Superior Court. Moore has a status hearing scheduled for Nov. 13.
The two men most recently arrested are not accused of attacking Maslin, Kucik said.