Horrific Attack, Heroic Rescue

Ray, one of the rescuers, said he hit the assailant with a metal pole.
Ray, one of the rescuers, said he hit the assailant with a metal pole. "I just thought, 'If we don't do something right now, this woman is going to die,' " he said. (By Susan Biddle -- The Washington Post)
By Del Quentin Wilber and Petula Dvorak
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, July 7, 2005

The first neighbor sprinted when he heard the screams of a woman being slashed on his Northwest Washington street. He jumped on a knife-wielding man, and the two fell to the ground, wrestling furiously in a spreading pool of the victim's blood.

Soon, a second neighbor joined the fight, followed by three more. The assailant kept slipping from their grip and attacking the woman until they overpowered him and held him for police Tuesday night.

"Instead of cowering behind their doors, they responded to her screams for help and went beyond the call of duty," said Diane Groomes, a D.C. police inspector. "Without them, this probably would never have been solved. Without them, he might have killed her."

The victim, a 24-year-old economist, was hospitalized yesterday in serious but stable condition. The assailant, identified by police as Reginald Jones, apparently was high on PCP at the time of the attack, police said. He was treated at a hospital for injuries from the struggle. Detectives were questioning him last night.

The residents' actions came several weeks after an off-duty FBI agent intervened to stop a woman who stabbed two people at a Montgomery County mall. But too often, according to police and community leaders, ordinary people appear indifferent to violence.

"What they did was amazing and a good contrast to other cases, where there were bystanders and no one helped," said D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who represents the area.

Police declined to identify the woman because she is considered a witness. She is scheduled to begin graduate-level courses soon at the London School of Economics, her grandmother said.

"She has bandages on her eye and she can't see," the grandmother said in a telephone interview from her home in Boston. "She's a little bit squeezing her mother's arm, though.

"She is such a smart girl. So beautiful, with long black hair. She speaks Spanish and Ukrainian. She works so hard. She studied in the library all summer so she can take the test and go back to school. I wonder why, why he had to attack such a good girl."

Jones, of Southeast Washington, was charged with assault with intent to kill. Police said that he did not have a record of violent crime. They quoted him as saying that he had taken PCP, a drug often associated with violent outbursts, to celebrate his 21st birthday Tuesday night.

Police said that Jones yelled at the victim, chased her and caught up with her as she tried to get away. He stabbed her eight or nine times at 15th and Corcoran streets NW, police said. The attack took place about 9 p.m. in a neighborhood of brick rowhouses near Dupont and Logan circles.

Two neighbors who rushed to the woman's rescue described what happened on the condition that they not be identified, saying they feared retaliation.

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