Woman Injured In NW Stabbing

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 17, 2006

A 41-year-old woman was stabbed and critically wounded yesterday afternoon during a purse snatching near the Takoma Metro station in Northwest Washington, authorities said.

After being stabbed in the chest and possibly the neck during the 3:50 p.m. attack, the woman was taken to a hospital for surgery. Police said last night that despite severe wounds, she was expected to survive. She was not identified.

The stabbing came days after D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey declared a crime emergency in the city, citing increases in homicides and robberies. He said criminals were following the money to areas once deemed safe.

Residents and officials said they were surprised and troubled by yesterday's attack at Fourth and Cedar streets NW, an area that at least by day is busy with comings and goings. They said, however, that the block has been a trouble spot at times.

It was not clear why the woman was stabbed. Some neighbors said they understood that the woman might have resisted the robbery.

Sgt. Joe Gentile, a police spokesman, said it appeared that the woman was attacked by a single assailant who took her purse and ran off.

D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4), whose district includes the Takoma neighborhood adjacent to Maryland's Takoma Park, said the purse was later found. He said it was recovered in the District, less than a quarter-mile from the robbery scene. It was not clear whether anything was taken from it.

The robber was described as a black man in his late twenties or early thirties with a mottled, medium complexion, about 6 feet 1 inch tall and 150 pounds. He wore a blue shirt tied around his head and gray nylon shorts with a stripe. According to another account, the man was bare-chested.

"It sounded like [the assailant was] trying to rob a woman just walking in broad daylight," Fenty said. But, he added, "it wasn't apparent why they felt the need to stab her."

Fenty called the area "definitely safe, especially at 3 p.m. in the afternoon."

He said that people had been mugged in the area of yesterday's incident but that most of those robberies were "a while ago," and almost all were at night.

Yesterday's stabbing was "extremely troubling to say the least," said Faith Wheeler, an advisory neighborhood commissioner whose district abuts the crime scene.

Police cordoned off the area of the attack, but neighbors who were drawn by the activity said they saw splotches of blood on the sidewalk. Fenty said he understood that the woman's wound came "pretty close to her heart."

The attack came one day after the city's 15th homicide this month. Fourteen were reported in the first 12 days. A woman was arrested in the Saturday homicide, a fatal stabbing in Adams Morgan, which apparently followed an argument prompted by a rap competition.

In addition to pointing to the increase in homicides, Ramsey reported last week that the number of robberies in the city had risen about 16 percent and serious assaults about 14 percent in a 30-day period.

The increases came at a time when crime levels "in general" were the lowest in years but were nevertheless troubling, the chief said.

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