It was a Friday at 4:50 p.m., and a 22-year-old student at Catholic University stepped out of his house near campus to head off to class. It was then, he told D.C. police, that a man holding a semiautomatic handgun ordered him back inside.
Two other armed men quickly followed — one with a handgun, another holding what appeared to be an assault rifle — and they forced the student and seven others to the floor, according to D.C. police. Authorities said the armed men bound the students’ hands with zip-ties and stole cellphones and money.
Authorities have made no arrests in the April 4 robbery in a privately owned house on Seventh Street NE, a half-mile from the Michigan Avenue campus in the District’s Brookland neighborhood.
D.C. police disclosed the brazen robbery on a community Internet bulletin board but did not widely distribute information about the crime until Thursday, after they obtained composite sketches of two people sought in the case. Shortly after the incident, the university issued a crime alert to students and put a post on its Internet page.
None of the students, all in their early 20s, were injured, according to police, and none could be reached for comment.
D.C. police Capt. William Fitzgerald in the criminal investigation division called it “a very bold crime.” He said that the students held parties at the residence and that the robbers may have attended one.
“The students were not part of a fraternity, but the students described themselves as being socially active,” Fitzgerald said. “The house has been the scene of several parties involving Catholic University students, which may or may not have included outsiders coming into the parties. But the house was known within the Catholic University community.”
He added: “We are obviously looking into the fact that these people have been at that address before. And past experience has told us this has been true.”
In 2011, D.C. police shot and killed two men who authorities said burst into another house near Catholic University and beat and threatened to kill students during a robbery. The suspects had been to that house before for a party and to buy marijuana from a person widely known as the “weed man,” police said at the time.
Victor Nakas, a university spokesman, said that “any crime committed against our students is a concern or us.”
Nakas said the school issued a campus alert about the armed invasion shortly and included safety tips. “We try to keep our students sensitive to the fact that we are in an urban area,” the spokesman said.
Three days after the robbery, the university said, someone broke into a student apartment in a building called the Cloisters, in the 100 block of Michigan Avenue NE. A campus crime alert said that entry was gained through an unlocked patio door and that the students were sleeping at the time. No one was injured.
The April 7 break-in occurred between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m. Officials said electronics, credit cards and wallets were taken.
D.C. police says it does not appear the two crimes are related.