The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Employee of D.C. mayor’s office fired after violent fracas at city hall

The John A. Wilson Building.
The John A. Wilson Building. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)
Placeholder while article actions load

A community outreach worker employed by D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) has been fired in the wake of allegations that he was involved in a violent altercation at city hall last week, city officials said.

Russell Rowe, a Ward 3 liaison in the mayor’s Office of Community Relations, was “immediately placed on administrative leave” after the July 20 incident and has since then “received a notice of termination,” mayoral spokeswoman LaToya Foster said.

Rowe could not be reached for comment.

According to a report released Thursday by D.C. police, Rowe entered the John A. Wilson Building about 6:30 p.m. after drinking at a nearby lounge. He told a woman in the building’s elevator, “I’m going where ever you’re going, so I can get a kiss,” the police report states, prompting the woman to find her supervisor.

After her supervisor asked Rowe whether he worked in the building, Rowe cursed and “balled his fist up and took a swing” at the man, although he failed to land his punch, according to the report.

Two police officers in the Protective Services Division — which is part of the D.C. Department of General Services and provides security at government buildings — intervened, but Rowe “started cursing and being belligerent” toward one of them, the report states.

Rowe agreed to leave the building but once outside got into a tussle with another man, and both fell to the ground, the report said. Then Rowe punched the rear window of a car, prompting officers to handcuff Rowe and sit him on the curb.

Rowe was taken to George Washington University Hospital for treatment of a lacerated hand by D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services. He was not arrested or charged with a crime. The report states that the man he attacked said he did not wish to press charges.

The report was first obtained and published on Twitter by Fox 5.

The first version of the report released to the television station was heavily redacted, making it unclear who was involved in the incident. Such reports are typically made public as written, without any information withheld.

Officials in the Department of General Services wrote and then redacted the report.

Police and city officials said the report was not written correctly and contained too many witness names, forcing the redaction. However, both Fox 5 and The Washington Post obtained unredacted copies of the report Thursday. The Post obtained a copy through a routine request to the police department’s public-records division.

The mayor’s Office of Community Relations handles constituent services and assigns liaisons to different wards to deal with the concerns of specific neighborhoods.

The mayor’s office did not respond Thursday afternoon to questions about when Rowe began work. Minutes from a March meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3B state that Rowe was introduced then as a new Ward 3 liaison.

According to budgetary documents submitted to the D.C. Council in February, Rowe’s salary was $52,530.