More than 100 Capitol Hill residents concerned about a series of crimes, including three attacks on women that authorities say may be linked, met with D.C. police Wednesday night, bringing questions about safety and the ongoing investigation.
Jeff Brown, commander of the 1st Police District, told the audience that additional officers have been redeployed to patrol the Eastern Market area on foot, bicycles and Segways. Resident Lee Ellen Carter, 28, said she was encouraged by that news, but was also worried about how long the extra patrols would continue.
“It’s unsettling,” she said in an interview. “I’m around the same age as some of the victims. I fit the target.”
In all three attacks — two on May 21 and one on May 15 — the female victims were walking alone, one near upscale stores near the NoMa-Gallaudet Metro and two near the Eastern Market Metro, in the heart of Capitol Hill. In each case, a man put a sharp object to the victim’s neck and cut or stabbed two of them, police said.
D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), who called the meeting, wondered whether the robberies were part of a broader trend. “This has been frightening and unusual,” Wells said.
Police have posted a video of a potential suspect but have not made any arrests. Brown said police think a dark-colored Chrysler 300 was used in one of the robberies, but added, “we don’t have a whole lot to go on.”
In addition to the violent robberies, residents are concerned about what they think is increased crime along Barracks Row, a strip of restaurants and taverns. A 60-year-old man was beaten during a robbery at a convenience store May 6 and he died several days later. Police have made arrests in the case.
The latest attack occurred about 9:45 p.m. on May 21 at a bus stop near Independence Avenue and Eighth Street SE. A police report says a man told a 27-year-old victim to “be quiet,” demanded her wallet and said, “Don’t do anything.”
Police said he then put his arms around her neck and forced her to walk across Eighth Street and into an alley. Police said the man tried to lift up the woman’s skirt, but she resisted. He then stabbed her in the neck and ran through an alley with her purse, credit cards, umbrella and a single dollar bill.
A woman who said she was mugged at gunpoint in March in the Eastern Market area went to Wednesday’s meeting to learn more about the recent attacks.
“It’s one thing if someone is stealing all your stuff,” Jessica Falborn said in an interview. “But if he’s harming someone for another reason, do I need to get pepper spray? Do I need to get a firearms permit?”
A half-hour before the May 21 robbery in the alley, police said a woman walking on M Street NE, near the NoMa Metro station, was attacked in a similar way. He said the victim, in her 20s, was walking alone when a man came up behind her, pressed a sharp object to her neck and took some property.
On May 15 near Eastern Market, D.C. police said a man grabbed a 67-year-old woman at Ninth and C streets SE and put a sharp object against her neck. “Do not say anything and be quiet,” police said he told her before cutting her and stealing her purse, credit cards, $50 and a cellphone.
Randy Steer passed out fliers at the meeting, trying to attract interest in starting a civilian security patrol. Steer, who once lived in Adams Morgan, said neighborhoods that become destinations are great for dining and entertainment. But “when you become a destination for suburbanites,” he added, “you also become a destination for criminals.”
Police are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the cases. Anyone with information is urged to call 202-727-9099 or text 50411.