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Assaulted on my doorstep [2 hours after returning to DC]
|| 7/18/2008 || 9:30 am || 11 Comments Rendered || ||

Instead of rewriting the entire account, I am posting the e-mail I wrote to the listserv of my neighborhood association:


I’m sorry to be writing my ‘return to DC’ e-mail in this context but I feel compelled to share this since it just happened.

For the last 7 days I’ve been in Colorado; first for my mother’s wedding, then for a night in the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park, and finally to spend some time with friends in Boulder & Denver. I arrived back on Westminster Street at 12:30am after being delayed for 2 hours in Denver. Since I was not tired yet, I decided to go to my favorite nearby watering hole on 14th & T. After one hour and one drink, I decided to ride my bike back to my house.

Upon arriving on Westminster Street, at approximately 1:36am I dismounted my bicycle behind Mr. Lewis’ white pickup truck parked in front of Mr. Brown’s house. As I passed behind my the truck and was turning toward my front door, I noticed 3 African Americans in their mid-20’s had stopped their car in the middle of the street and started to approach me. The tallest of the three wearing a white tank top and khaki jeans pretended to have a pistol in his back pocket and demanded what I had in my pockets. I backed up to my doorstep refusing their request, using my bicycle as a wall (which did not help much). They came up the steps continuing to demand what I had in my pockets. After refusing again, telling them to go away and that I was at my home, I was punched in the face & body multiple times by the three and was able to fend them off by fighting back and because I was not being knocked out cold by the punches to the face. They did not steal anything from me because I refused and fought back.

Before they drove off, I was able to run into the street and catch much of their license plate: A102108 / A101208 / A108021 (one of the variations [all turned out to be incorrect]), which was a Maryland plate with the orange, yellow, and black hues known as the “agricultural plate.” If my memory serves me, it was a mid/late-90’s gold Ford Thunderbird that they were driving (the car has a uniquely shaped trunk). I called the police who arrived within 5 minutes. Since I was bleeding from the lip the officer had the fire & ambulance come, but I signed the document refusing service ($$!!). There was one woman down the block who witnessed it all and ran inside for her safety. I have her contact information but I don’t think it will matter much because she was so far away and was scared enough to run inside– “I knew something was up when I saw them approach you, so I ran inside” (which I would have done too in her position– by herself at night).

In conclusion, this was the type of freak assault that is really really really hard to prevent. If you have people willing to commit that type of crime, there is very little we can do as a community to prevent it. I ride my bicycle at night for this very reason. Its one thing to be jumped because you are walking down the street alone at night, its a completely different issue when you are literally assaulted on your front doorstep. I moved to the neighborhood in May of 2004 and this is the first time something like this has happened to me. Its just very frustrating because I had just arrived back in the city and was refreshed after being in a place I cherish. Tomorrow I expect to receive a call from the MPD’s detective and I hope to hear some good news, but I’m not keeping my hopes up. If there is any type of follow-up, I will share it.

Your neighbor with cut lips & very sore jaw,
Nikolas Schiller

Keep an eye out for this car:
I don’t think that’s the exact car, but its as close as my memory recalls.

I ultimately received dozens of kind e-mails from my neighbors, multiple e-mails from my city councilmember, e-mails from the DC Police, and even a hand written note from a police sergeant explaining why they parked a cop car in front of my house.

This type of response was downright flattering and it made me realize that while I might live a somewhat dangerous city, I live in a community that cares about the wellbeing of its residents.

Why the caption: “sometimes memories are worth fighting for” ?

Well in my pockets were not only my wallet and cellphone, but my brand new digital camera that I had purchased to document my mother’s wedding & excursions in Colorado. Had the thugs pulled out a gun or a knife I would have surrendered everything, but they didn’t, and I knew that if I would have voluntarily handed them the contents I would have lost all the photographs & video clips forever. I’ve heard of stories where thugs have allowed their victims the opportunity to remove the camera’s memory card before stealing the camera, but I was not about to take that chance. I held my ground, got a least one solid punch off (my ring left a scare on my hand indicating that I punched the guy hard enough for the ring dig into my skin), and was able to fight to retain my memories. Memories which I hope to share on this blog in the next few days.

Related Crime Entries:

Post Title: Assaulted on my doorstep [2 hours after returning to DC]
Post Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in: Crime, General, Law

  1. Sorry to hear about your “welcome home.” I truly believe there would be less of this if DC allowed concealed carry.
    It’s not a healthy situation when thugs can calculate with confidence that individuals on the street are almost 100% likely to be unarmed. This makes us victims – not citizens.

    Comment by kalukistan de la kalakaleel — 7/24/2008 @ 8:39 pm

  2. Thanks for your reply, however I beg to differ with your opinion on concealed weapons. I don’t think having a gun would have made me any safer. In fact I think it would make me and my neighbors less safe.

    For example, lets say I armed myself before leaving my house that night. When would have been the right time for me to draw my weapon? The moment I did not feel safe? Would I have to have waited to see if the culprits had guns on them before I discharged my weapon? This isn’t Texas or Florida where you can shoot first and ask questions later, nor should DC become a town of full of people with itchy trigger fingers.

    Or would holding it in the air been enough to scare them away as much as the culprit pretending to have one in his back pocket in order to scare me? But that means there could have been three guns to my one gun. Would I have survived that shoot out? What about the bullets that might have missed me, could they also have accidentally killed one of my roommates or neighbors as collateral damage?

    What if I was too quick to judge the situation and shot all three before they approached me? Would my self-defense looked like I killed 3 African Americans in cold blood? Because they didn’t have guns, no one was killed. Had the three had guns, I would have lost all my possessions because I was not about to fight back in the face of a gun pointed at me. Yet they didn’t and we all survived.

    I’ve carried a handgun before on my body when I was hiking in Alaska. It was carried for protection against grizzly bears but I didn’t have to use it, nor did I have to worry about a grizzly bear being armed and shooting back. Vigilante justice doesn’t make it legitimate justice. With the ability to conceal and carry a weapon I would only feel safer wearing a bullet-proof vest. People will commit crime regardless of the weapons present. Its the larger societal issues that compel people to commit crime that worries me. The ability for these criminals to have even easier access to guns does not make me feel safer in any way, instead it demands that we arm ourselves out of fear. I refuse to live in fear.

    Comment by — 7/24/2008 @ 9:47 pm

  3. […] a dude from Shaw faced an attempted mugging on his porch on Westminster Street. And fought off the muggers! (Hat tip […]

    Pingback by Prince Of Petworth » Blog Archive » Dude, This Dude Was Crazy! — 7/24/2008 @ 10:53 pm

  4. […] DCist, blogger Nikolas Schiller says he stood up for himself and fought back when some kids pretending to have a gun told him to empty his pockets on his doorstep. They beat […]

    Pingback by Washington City Paper: City Desk - Our Morning Roundup — 7/25/2008 @ 7:03 am

  5. Sometimes, I actually forget how dangerous DC can be. Probably because I lived on GWU campus for so long (it’s its own little safety bubble). But even things like this can’t dissuade me from wanting to move back into the city, or loving the city.

    Ah, and I would’ve taken several punches to save my camera. Gladly. Hope you’re doing well.

    Comment by Jenn — 7/25/2008 @ 9:27 am

  6. I saw this today and it reminded me of your story and possibly related. Take a look and see:

    “A 21-year-old man was beaten and robbed in the Springfield Mall parking lot on Friday, July 25 around 8:30 p.m. The Alexandria-area man was apparently followed to his car by a group of several young men from Maryland. After a brief confrontation, the suspects punched the victim, produced a gun and demanded his money and belongings. The teenagers took the items and fled.”

    Good news is that they were caught. The following site has their mug shots. Hopefully you can identify them

    Comment by JR — 7/28/2008 @ 3:18 pm

  7. JR, thank you very much for the lead. I would like to know what kind of car they were driving, because the report does not say so.

    Comment by — 7/28/2008 @ 3:37 pm

  8. You should contact your DC detective or who ever is handling your case. Or contact the Fairfax County Police, I am sure they may be interested in finding related crimes.

    Comment by JR — 7/28/2008 @ 6:36 pm

  9. […] has been written on this blog—and others—as to whether victims of muggings/thefts/assault should try to fight back against their […]

    Pingback by Washington City Paper: City Desk - To Fight Or Not To Fight — 7/29/2008 @ 1:48 pm

  10. It is incredibly unfortunate that this happened to you.

    Wondering if there is an update as it’s been four months since this occurred…???

    Comment by copcar — 11/19/2008 @ 11:17 am

  11. There has been no update in regards to the July assault. The culprits were not found.
    Its been so long that I’m not even sure if I’d be able to identify them even if they were caught.

    However, I was assaulted again in my neighborhood on October 28th by a group of youths & last Friday I spotted one of the youths under arrest near my house. I told the officers on the scene that I had a “second sighting” and today I am going to be meeting with detectives to look at mugshots in order to confirm his identity.

    Comment by — 11/19/2008 @ 11:32 am

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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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