Authorities reported eight robberies in the District on Wednesday — four with guns or knives — from about midnight through mid-afternoon.

One robber was described as a man with tattoos and wearing army fatigue shorts. Another, D.C. police said, had a “regular haircut.” Still another had on blue jeans and a gray hat with a dolphin on it. One description stood out: a boy with a gun, who was thought to be all of 12 years old.

If the victim was correct, the middle-school-age gunman would be among the younger people who commit robberies in the city.

The robbery occurred about 1 p.m. in the 4900 block of Eads Street NE, just off Benning Road and near the Anacostia Freeway. Police tweeted the description: “12-year-old wearing red shirt.”

Officer Araz Alali, a police spokesman, said the victim said the youth pointed a black handgun at him and tried to take his cellphone but didn’t get it. The victim said the robber was 4 feet 6 inches tall.

Police said they have only the man’s word to describe the robber’s age. But a high ranking police official with direct knowledge of the case played down any attempt to sensationalize.

“He probably is 12,” said the official, who is not authorized to speak on the matter. “I don’t know why everyone is so surprised. Unfortunately, it’s not out of the norm to have some younger kids involved in these types of crimes.”

In September, two people in Northeast Washington reported being robbed by a 6-year-old boy, although they said he did not have a gun. The police announcement on Twitter caused a sensation, and police later toned down the description to include a group of children ranging in age from 7 to 14. Police privately questioned the victims’ stories; one admitted in an interview they were trying to buy drugs. No arrest has been made.

Armed and unarmed robberies have been a persistent problem in the city for the past two years. So far this year, 731 people have been victims of armed robbery, down from 763 at this time last year.