The D.C. National Guard is stationing high-powered lights in the Dupont Circle area this week to brighten dark streets that might have contributed to a rash of robberies and the slaying of a popular waiter at a neighborhood restaurant, officials said yesterday.
The lights were originally scheduled to be deployed at 14th and Chapin streets NW on Tuesday night to fight drug dealing. But D.C. Police Cmdr. Larry McCoy asked that the lights be moved to help police deter street robberies.
One set was placed at 18th and R streets NW, where waiter Adrien D. Alstad, 55, was killed during an apparent holdup attempt early Monday. The other set of lights was sent to 14th and R streets NW, a corner in the Logan Circle area known for drug dealing.
Some of the floodlights -- part of a D.C. National Guard anti-crime program -- are scheduled to be in the Dupont area until Saturday, according to Staff Sgt. Lorenzo Parnell of the D.C. Air National Guard.
For years, the National Guard has deployed the lights throughout the city, mostly in areas known for heavy drug dealing.
In addition to the lighting, police beefed up patrols in the area. No arrests have been made in Alstad's death, but police said it might be connected to a recent spate of holdups in the neighborhood. Witnesses told police that, moments before Alstad was fatally shot, they heard him say, "I don't have any money."
Detectives are investigating whether Alstad's slaying is connected to an attempted robbery early Tuesday that resulted in a high-speed chase into Southeast Washington. The driver of that car escaped, but police arrested a passenger.
Even as officers flooded the neighborhood, two men were robbed at gunpoint by three assailants early yesterday in the 1600 block of 16th Street NW, police said.
The robbers pistol-whipped one victim and stole the other's wallet before running away, police said.
Police and civic leaders said most of the recent robberies have occurred early in the morning, after bars and restaurants let out. Robbers appear to be targeting people walking on dimly lit streets.
Robert P. Halligan, chairman of the public safety committee for the advisory neighborhood commission that includes Dupont, said he was upset that the District had not done enough to fix lights that have not been functioning for months on R Street NW.
"I feel horrified that [the city] can't do its job and the National Guard is doing it," Halligan said.
Last night, crews were replacing broken lights at 18th and R streets.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams ate lunch yesterday at Annie's Paramount Steak House, where Alstad worked as a waiter.
Williams said he visited the restaurant because "when there's a crime in our city, it's of a concern to all of us."
Staff writer Lori Montgomery contributed to this report.