It was in daylight, around the corner from a D.C. police station, and the woman was screaming for help.
The incident occurred Sunday morning , in the 1200 block of Delaware Avenue SW, near the headquarters of the first police district on M Street SW.
According to a brief account of the incident, someone came up to the woman and asked for the time. The time, according to police, was about 10:30 a.m.
But as it turned out , according to the police account, more was wanted from the woman than the time.
When the woman tried to provide it, the police said, an attempt was made to pull her purse from her arm.
That touched off a tussle, according to police.
During the struggle, they said, the woman was screaming for help.
A witness called 911.
The would-be robber fled, empty handed, police said. They said the woman was not injured.
The would be robber was last seen heading toward N Street SW, the police said.
He was described as black, 17 to 18, 5 feet 7 , with a medium build, dark pants and olive jacket and a face mask.
It was not clear just where in the 1200 block of Delaware the incident occurred. The 1200 block is a long one, and its southern end is out of sight of the police station on M Street and about 300 yards away.