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A Gate-Crasher's Change of Heart

While he was at a Capitol Hill party last month, Michael Rabdau, above, and his wife watched as a man intruded upon the guests gathered in the back yard of their host's home and held a gun to his 14-year-old daughter's head.
While he was at a Capitol Hill party last month, Michael Rabdau, above, and his wife watched as a man intruded upon the guests gathered in the back yard of their host's home and held a gun to his 14-year-old daughter's head. "I was definitely expecting there would be some kind of casualty," Rabdau said. (By Ricky Carioti -- The Washington Post)

With that, the man walked out with a crystal wine glass in hand, filled with Chateau Malescot. No one was hurt, and nothing was stolen.

The homeowner, Xavier Cervera, 45, had gone out to walk his dog at the end of the party and missed the incident, which happened about midnight June 16. Police classified the case as strange but true and said they had not located a suspect.

"We believe it is a true robbery," said Cmdr. Diane Groomes, who is in charge of patrols in the Capitol Hill area. But it's one-of-a-kind, she said, adding, "I've never heard of a robber joining a party and then walking out to the sunset."

The hug, she said, was especially unusual. "They should have squeezed him and held onto him for us," she said.

Rabdau said he hasn't been able to figure out what happened.

"I was definitely expecting there would be some kind of casualty," Rabdau said this week. "He was very aggressive at first; then it turned into a love fest. I don't know what it was."

Rabdau, a federal government worker who lives in Anne Arundel County with his family and lived on Capitol Hill with his wife in the 1980s, said that the episode lasted about 10 minutes but seemed like an hour. He believes the guests were spared because they kept a positive attitude during the exchange.

"There was this degree of disbelief and terror at the same time," Rabdau said. "Then it miraculously just changed. His whole emotional tone turned -- like, we're one big happy family now. I thought: Was it the wine? Was it the cheese?"

After the intruder left, the guests walked inside the house, locked the door and stared at each other. They didn't say a word. Rabdau dialed 911. Police arrived quickly and took a report. They also dusted for fingerprints -- so far, to no avail.

In the alley behind the home, investigators found the intruder's empty crystal wine glass on the ground, unbroken.


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