Rep. Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.) was beaten and robbed outside his Capitol Hill residence early yesterday. It was the second criminal attack on a member of Congress in the District of Columbia in the last 10 days.
Michel, 55, told District police that he was jumped from behind as he opened the trunk of his car behind his house at 322 8th St. SE at about 12:45 a.m. The husky 11-term member from Peoria who is 5-feet-11 and weighs 220 pounds, reported that "two or more" young men fought with him before fleeing with his wallet, wristwatch and gym bag.
Neighbors heard the fight and called police, and Michel was taken to Capitol Hill Hospital for emergency treatment. He was transferred to Bethesda Naval Hospital, where he was reported in stable condition later yesterday.
Police interviewed Michel at Bethesda yesterday but said "he was so badly beaten he could barely talk."
Deputy Chief H. R. Horwitz, commander of the First District of the police force, said yesterday that there has been "no more incidence of mugging on the Hill than in other areas" of his command. Horwitz added that street crime normally increases in the summer "because people stay outside longer" at night.
Capt. Harry Grevey of the U.S. Capitol Police, which has jurisdiction on the Capitol grounds and adjoining office buildings, also said there has been no noticeable upturn in street crime.
On July 11, Sen. Robert Morgan (D-N.C.) was robbed by $300 by three teen-agers while the Senator was window shopping downtown about 10:15 p.m. Morgan was not injured.
No arrest has been made in either incident.
Mike Johnson, press aide to Michel, said the congressman was "awfully sore and a little mad" about the attack, in which he suffered multiple cuts on the head and face, requiring seven stitches in his tongue, and a fractured rib. His eyes and mouth were badly swollen, Johnson said, adding that bruises on Michel's knuckles indicated that "he got a couple of licks in of his own."
Michel, who is the House Minority whip, had played softball earlier in the evening, and was getting his athletic gear out of the car trunk when he was attacked. He told police that along with his watch and wallet his assailants got away with about $200 in a money clip, several credit cards, his softball glove and shoes and a red atheltic shirt.
The congressman said he normally parks his automobile on the street in front of his house, but because of a construction project on 8th Street, he was forced to drive into the alley and park in the rear.
Rep. Thomas F. Railsback (R-Ill.) said yesterday that he and Michel had had a night-cap together and that Michel had then dropped him off about midnight at his car in front of Errico's, a restaurant at 538 8th St. SE., where members of Rails Ringers, the softball team captained by Railsback, had gone after the game.
Railsback said that during the game, played on the Mall near the Lincoln Memorial, Michel "hit a double and played a good fielding game" in a 10-7 loss to Russo's Revenge, led by Rep. Martin A. Russo (D-Ill.)
Michel, a World War II combat infantryman who was wounded by machinegun fire and discharged as disabled with shrapnel wounds and loss of hearing in one ear, has been in Washington since 1946. He was administrative aide to his predecessor, Rep. Harold Velde, before being elected in 1957.
His wife, Corinne, had gone back to Peoria earlier this month, but flew here yesterday after learning of the attack. The Michels have four children.