In the more than two years since congressional aide Arnold Woodrich moved to the fringe of Capitol Hill's restored area and began to renovate a 1905 row house, his neighbor, Warren Smith, a self-employed fence builder, has been both friend and counsel.
"He saw me through thick and thin," Woodrich, 33, said yesterday. Smith helped him fix his car, moved furniture, gave him lumber and nails and shared his sidewalk conversations, said Woodrich, who lives at 1367 Emerald St. NE.
"Him and I have always been close," said Smith, 39, of Woodrich.
So it was to his neighbor's door that Woodrich fled in the freezing cold early yesterday as he was being chased and beaten by a man with a fire place poker. Moments earlier theman and an accomplice had broken into Woodrich's home.
"I knocked as hard as I could" on Smith's door, Woodrich said, and "called his name over and over.
Then, as Woodrich stood with blood streaming down his face, there followed a rare display of neighborly concern.
Smith and two of hs sons came outside and wrestled in the snow and ice with the man while the man's accomplice threw bricks at them from a distance, according to Woodrich.
"He was putting up a hell of fight," said Woodrich of the man, until finally "my neighbor put a half nelson on him or something like that and he stayed down."
Other neighbors who live along the short, narrow street came out of their homes, but by them, Smith said, "everything was under control."
In the midst of it all, someone had called the D. C. police. The accomplice, who allegedly struck Woodrich with a crowbar as he fled from his house, escaped. The man whom Smith pinned to the ground was arrested and charged with first degree burglary, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office said.
The suspect, Melvin Green Jr., 18, of 700 12th St! SE., had been charged with burglary in the same area three weeks ago but was released by a D.C. Superior Court judge to the supervision of a court-appointed custodian. Green is now being held without bond pending a hearing Thursday, the U.S. attorney's office said.
Woodrich, alegislative aide to Rep. Charles A. Vanik (D-Ohio), said he was awakened from a sound sleep about 1:40 a.m. yesterday and found two men standing in his bedroom, one armed with the poker, the other iwth a crowbar. When they ordered him into a closet, Woodrich said, he ran from the bedroom, was struck with the Cowbar but then fled from the house. He was treated at Capitol Hill Hospital following the incident, a spokeswoman there said.
"We're just all neighbors, that's all. We don't like to see anything happen to anybody," said Smith, who gave is neighbor a life from the hospital and a bed in his house after the ordeal.
"It's nice to let people know . . . they just can't walk into the neighborhood and do what they want . . . and expect to get away with it," Smith said.