The 38-year-old talked for half an hour in Amharic before he said three gunmen interrupted him to take his car. As of Oct. 1, carjackings in the District had spiked 93 percent compared to the same period last year, police said.
Anagaw said knew he was being targeted when he heard a voice from the passenger side say, “Get out of the car.” A split second later, another man opened the driver’s side door and repeated, “Get out of the car,” inserting a profanity and pointing a gun. “I swear to God, I’m not playing,” the man said.
Anagaw got out and three men, all of whom he said carried guns, climbed in. The driver, his blue pandemic mask covering half his mouth, turned the ignition and drove off, apparently not realizing the phone was still recording and video of the theft and getaway was being uploaded live for Anagaw’s 10,000 followers.
After making a few turns, it appears one of the passengers noticed the phone and ripped it down, broadcasting brief images of the car’s roof before the screen went dark.
Back on Kennedy Street, Anagaw was left standing on the road, stripped of his phone, wallet, money, identification cards and blue leather shoes, all, he said, taken by a fourth man in his own vehicle.
“I don’t think they needed the shoes,” Anagaw said later. “They think if I have shoes, maybe I run. I walk slowly if I don’t have shoes.”
D.C. police said Anagaw was one of 10 victims of carjackings or attempted carjackings since Sept. 25, attacks that occurred in Southeast, Northeast and Northwest Washington. In one instance, a person was carjacked at gunpoint at 15th and L streets NW in the heart of downtown on the afternoon of Sept. 26. In another on Saturday, the victim was forced to drive to an ATM and withdraw money before the person’s cash and car were taken.
In addition, police are searching for suspects in two car thefts, one that occurred Sept. 16 in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood when authorities said a man stole a car left running by a delivery driver, then struck the delivery driver, a woman and two children, one in a stroller. On Wednesday, police said a man stole a car left at 2nd and K streets NE and drove off with a 2-year-old child in the back. Police said the driver apparently saw the infant and stopped a block away and ran. The infant was quickly recovered, uninjured.
Police said they are trying to determine if any of the incidents are related. So far, they said, they’ve linked only the carjacking that occurred at 15th and L streets to an attempted carjacking that occurred three hours later in the Navy Yard area.
Authorities said they have arrested a man and three teenage boys — ages 13 and 14 — in an armed carjacking that occurred Wednesday on 4th Street in Southeast. No other arrests have been made.
Authorities in the District have attributed the increase in vehicular thefts in part to the pandemic and proliferation of service delivery drivers. Police said they too often leave their cars unattended and running and are frequent targets. Police said some of those stolen vehicles have been later linked to violent crimes.
Police say 2,300 vehicles have been stolen so far this year in the District, up 44 percent from this time in 2019. Carjackings in that time have jumped from 100 to 193, with the biggest increases in the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th police districts. Those areas include neighborhoods such as Fort Totten, Takoma, Petworth, Ivy City, Trinidad, Congress Heights and Anacostia.
Meanwhile, police in Montgomery County, Md., are investigating four carjackings that occurred over a 10 day period starting Sept. 19, all in Silver Spring.
One vehicle was taken at gunpoint, police said. The three others had been left unattended or with their engines running, and police said their owners confronted the men and were threatened with firearms. Police said all four vehicles were found abandoned in the District, and they are looking into the possibility that the same people were involved.
Anagaw, whose carjacking was broadcast on Facebook Live, said he came to the United States in 2011. He lives in the District with his wife and two children, boys ages 1 and 8. He works driving for Uber and Lyft and is an activist speaking out during internal turmoil in Ethiopia. He said his younger brother was fired from his government job and jailed for speaking against the government.
On this particular Sunday, he chose to live-stream from his car, to find a quiet place away from his busy family. He parked on Kennedy Street, a residential block near his home just off New Hampshire Avenue and near Fort Totten.
He was carjacked about 3:40 p.m. He said he saw three men, all with guns, approach both sides of his Toyota Corolla, which he bought new in 2016. A fourth person was driving a silver sedan. One of the men ordered him to put his wallet on the ground and take off his shoes.
Anagaw said police found his Toyota two days later, abandoned in Southeast Washington. His phone was missing, but he was able to get a new phone and retain his old number. His Toyota is now at a garage, its frame bent and its engine broken.
“Everything is damaged,” Anagaw said. “No keys, no tires, no nothing.”
Dan Morse contributed to this report.