4 Robbed on Mall; Jogger Attacked at Rock Creek

By Clarence Williams and Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, May 27, 2006

Two couples were robbed at gunpoint on the Mall in separate late-night attacks that the U.S. Park Police called extremely unusual.

Two women were beaten, and one was taken to a hospital, according to Sgt. Scott Fear, a spokesman for the Park Police, which patrols the Mall.

The robberies occurred Thursday between 10:45 and 11 p.m. on the long stretch of greensward that draws visitors by the millions and is regarded as a national treasure.

"I don't really remember the last time we had an armed robbery on the Mall," Fear said last night.

The robberies occurred a day after a woman was attacked in Rock Creek Park while jogging on a popular hiking and biking trail. That incident, in which the woman fought off her attacker and escaped, was also described as highly uncommon.

The first of the Mall robberies occurred just west of 12th Street and south of Madison Drive, and the second about three blocks to the east, near Ninth Street, close to the carousel outside the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building. Both incidents were near the axis of the grassy stretch that runs from the Capitol to the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

The museums that line the Mall were long closed by the time the robberies occurred. But at that hour, the Mall provides striking views of the floodlit dome of the Capitol and the illuminated shaft of the Washington Monument.

Fear said that in each case, the assailants were described as three or four young men or teenagers. At least one displayed a semiautomatic handgun, Fear said.

It was not clear last night why the robbers chose the Mall, where holdups are "very, very rare" and police maintain regular patrols, the spokesman said.

"We don't know why they were down there," he said.

No arrests were reported.

The victims were not identified immediately. Fear said they were in their twenties and thirties. One member of each of the couples was a Washington area resident, he said.

The woman who was taken to a hospital was kicked and struck, the spokesman said.

Fear said that police have increased patrols and that detectives are conducting a round-the-clock investigation.

He said authorities intend to assure the public that the Mall remains safe.

In the Rock Creek Park incident, the woman was attacked from behind as she jogged in the densely wooded area just north of P Street. Fear said nothing similar had happened in more than two years.

The assailant tried to drag the woman into the woods, but she bit his finger, jumped into the creek and reached the parkway.

Police said the man was described as a thin, round-faced black man, about 35, between 5 foot 10 and 6 feet tall. He wore blue jeans and a long-sleeved pullover shirt with horizontal blue and black stripes.

Police asked those with information to call 202-610-8737.

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