Back in July I was assaulted on my doorstep by three men who jumped out of their car. Today while walking back from the convenience store located about 500 feet from my front door I was assaulted by a group of about 7 teenagers. Below is the e-mail that I sent to my neighborhood association listserve:
Today at 3:30pm while walking back home from the 10th Street Market a group of teenagers assaulted me.
After I had purchased a soft drink from the 10th Street Market, I was walking north on 10th street on the eastern sidewalk when a teen ran down the sidewalk from Westminster street and literally started throwing punches at me on the sidewalk near the alley. He didn’t ask for money, rather just wanted to fight and I looked like an easy subject.
When I turned around another youth had approached me from behind and took a swing at me. Since I wasn’t taken down with any of the punches, I continued to hold my fists up and take on both of the youth. I was able force the main attacker of the teenagers up 10th street to the corner of Westminster Street, whereupon another teen came running north on the sidewalk and attempted to punch me again. I continued yelling at them at the top of my lungs asking them why they wanted to fight me and telling them that I live here in the neighborhood.
In all there were about 7 youth, about 14 in age, and three or four of them fought me. They worked as a pack, with one ahead of the group, one behind the group, and a small group on the other side of the street watching. This type of group fighting strengthen bonds between youth because they are able to work together on a single target. The youth who first approached me was clearly trying to show off to his friends.
In all, I got punched in the left eye, right rib, and right lip. The police response was swift, within 5 minutes, and I was able to drive around with the officer Sarah Guarin, but were not able to spot any of the youth.
I am saddened that they’ll be in the neighborhood again in the not-so-distant future because they most likely go to school nearby. Many of us know that the time after school until dark during the school year is when we are most likely to be assaulted by teenagers, especially groups of teenagers.
While I want them to be punished for their actions, I do not want the youth to go to jail because from my experience it only hurts their future prospects. Community service can be a strong reforming agent for wayward youth like the ones who find sport in an after school fight club.
What I found bothersome during the entire altercation was that I was yelling at the top of my lungs the entire time & no neighbors heard me and that a UPS driver made a delivery to a neighbor while it was taking place and neither parties did anything. But at the same time there is little that can be done by observers except yelling “I am calling the police,” unless they want to risk getting beat up as well.
If I can ask a request for the police, it would be to do more patrols right when school is out. There are only a few places that teens congregate when after school and one of them is the 10th Street Market. I have a cordial relationship with the owner and I know he cannot do much because many walk by the store after school and give him patronage. For the time being, I’ll avoid shopping there after school.
The descriptions of the youth are as follows:
– One youth, 5’9″ African American, light skinned and wore a beige jacket, short black hair, slightly large ears. Skinny, about 145 lbs.
– One youth 5’6 African American, darker skinned and wore a neon blue t-shirt, with pink writing. 160 lbs. hat.
– One youth 5’8 African American, darker skinned and wore a white jacket with a patterned black print. 150 lbs. black hat.
– One slightly heavy-set youth, African American who did not get involved but played a supportive role. 5’11 180 short hair .25 inch
– Two African-American youth wearing black jackets
My glasses were nearly knocked off after the first blow, and I put them in my pocket so they would not break, and because of this I am unable to describe the youth in better detail.
Afterwards, while waiting for the police, a two young African American girls spoke to me and said they [the youth] “do that sometimes.” The girls were about 10 and 6. The youngest had shoulder-length braided hair. They probably know the teenagers who assaulted me.
The youth left going north toward the metro, then went down T street @ 3:35pm.
So far its only my ribcage that really hurts. I don’t know if the cut below my eye will turn into a black eye or not. And no, I didn’t have my camera on me… Ugh. When I moved into this house four years ago I thought the neighborhood was bad. Nearly half of the houses on S Street were boarded up and now they all have people in them. In the late 1980’s my street was an open air drug market and for the last 20 years the neighborhood has slowly prospered. But kids will be kids and when they don’t have enough activities keeping them busy, they’ll move toward criminal behavior.
#2:30 Wednesday, October 29th, 2008
Below are some e-mails that were generated because from the e-mail above:
E-mail from my neighbor:
This appears to be very similar to what happened on Friday afternoon at 5pm next to our home. A group of about 6 teenagers jumped one of our neighbors, demanding his cell phone. They had been following him south on 10th st., and as he turned to try and get away from them through the back of a Vt. Avenue neighbor’s house whose backyard faces 10th st., they jumped him. My husband witnessed it and immediately screamed out the window at the youth, who ran away. We called the police and they were there within about 5 minutes (along with what I assume were members of the gang unit). I agree that this is very disturbing. The same group of teenagers had been hanging out on 10th st for about 1/2 an hour before this. I had walked right by them and into our house, so they knew people were home and yet felt comfortable attacking someone right in front of the house in broad daylight. It’s very troubling, as the attack on our neighbor appeared to be more out of boredom than anything else.
E-mail from my city council member Jim Graham:
I am very saddened to read your message, though your strength and compassion is very compelling. The attack was discussed in this evening’s meeting in LeDroit Park, and then I returned home–after going to the scene of a homicide at 11th and Harvard–to find this description on my email.
I am including MPD leadership and the Mayor on this message.
I wonder whether this might not be in some way gang related. Some kind of perverse initiation, since there is no evidence of any robbery intention.
Perhaps MPD can shed some light on this. I sure hope so. I am including the head of detectives as well. These juveniles really need to be brought to justice.
With sincere sympathy, Jim
E-mail from ANC 2C01 Commissioner Alex Padro:
This activity has been reported numerous times in the past several years, as far away as western Ward 5 (east of New Jersey Avenue), but mostly focused in the area between 9th, 11th, R and T Streets. The youth target a single Caucasian male for the attack, without robbery as a motive, and in some instances, the injuries have been more serious. All the assaults have occurred in the 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM weekdays time frame.
E-mail from Mayor Adrian Fenty:
Commissioner and Councilmember: mpd will work with dcps and mpd to determine whether these were youth from the local high school and will also take some of the precautionary steps recommended
E-mail from Police Chief Cathy Lanier:
First of all let me offer my sincerest apologies for this assault! I
sincerely appreciate your reporting the crime and reaching out to MPD
with this great description of the youths. While not all of our youth
are engaging in this type of behavior we are seeing a small group that
are. We are taking an aggressive approach and stance on these
incidents. In most incidents reported to us, we have seen that the
attack preceded a robbery. Although this incident is horrific, I am
thankful that your personal property was not taken.
One of our current initiatives that we reiterated to the community
yesterday is the reward program we have in place for information related
to robberies. The police department offers up to $10,000 to anyone who
provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of an
individual(s) responsible for an armed robbery or a robbery that does
results in serious bodily injury. In addition to our efforts to
encourage citizens to come forward with information, DC Crime Solver’s
program also will reward up to $1,000 for information that leads to an
arrest and indictment of an individual(s) for a robbery or other serious
I shared that information with you, Mr. Schiller, to say that we are
aggressively working and fighting for you and the citizens of the
District. We are strongly encouraging citizens to come forward with
information about these crimes (any crime for that matter). This is a
completely unfortunate and undeserved attack on you and I will ensure
that we follow up with you and do our absolute best to identify and
arrest those responsible for it.
10/29/08 – 4:00pm – I spoke with Detective McKenna on the phone about everything and he said he’d come by tomorrow.
10/30/08 – 4:40pm – Detective McKenna and female detective, who’s name I cannot recall, stopped by the house today and spoke with me for about 15 minutes. According to their research, only one nearby school, Sunrise Academy
, does not have uniforms for the students. This means the kids involved in my assault either went to that school, they were skipping school, or they changed out of their uniforms once they left school property. Judging from the map, I doubt it was kids from that school simply due to the distance they would have had to travel after school to make it to my neighborhood. Anyways, I am told to call 911 and say that I have “a second sighting” if I see any of the kids involved in the assault walking around my neighborhood.
11/14/08 – 5:10pm – I noticed police activity at the corner of 10th & S and decided to leave my house to see what was happening and to purchase some beer from the 10th Street Market. Upon my arrival I noticed that a youth was in handcuffs and about 8 police officers were present. I went inside of the 10th Street Market to purchase my evening’s victuals and when I walked outside the youth was facing me and I immediately recognized the youth as the one who assaulted me.
I walked up to the youth who was partially surrounded by the police officers and looked him in eyes and yelled “DO YOU REMEMBER ME?” The police looked at me confused and said the female officer said, “Excuse me?” I turned to the nearby officer and said, “I have a second sighting.” Whereupon about 4 of the police officers approached me for questioning and I removed the piece of paper from my wallet which I had written the case number down on. I gave the police officers the paper and they proceeded to get some of my contact information and I was told that I would be contacted shortly. I walked back home and called Detective McKenna at the police department and left him a message.
11/15/08 – 1:41pm – While I was riding my bike down to the National Mall, I received a follow-up call from Detective McKenna. He said the youth in custody had a previous criminal record and was found with a BB gun on him the previous night. He said the “second sighting” was useful to the police and the youth was currently being detained indefinitely. He also stated that the youth did in fact attend Sunrise Academy
as was originally suspected due to the lack of school uniforms on the day of the original assault.
In all, I’m glad the youth was caught and I hope he learns from his mistakes. However, I fear that he’ll become more hardened while in police custody and for this I feel sorry for him. I hope he able to change his ways.
11/17/08 – 10:15am – A detective stopped by the house today with a printout of 9 different photographs on it. My instructions were to circle the picture of the person who was involved with the assault. After doing so I wasn’t told if I had chosen correctly or not. The detective thanked me for my time and left.
12/12/08 – 9:45am – About 30 minutes ago I received a phone call asking if I would be home to receive a subpoena. I confirmed and shortly afterwards someone from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (Family Court) delivered a subpoena to my residence. I am due in court on January 5th, 2009.
12/19/08 – 1:00pm – A representative from the Public Defender Service stopped by my house unannounced at 11:30am. I let him in and we spent the next 90 minutes making an oral and written statement regarding the events.
1/5/09 – 10:30am – Returned home from the DC Superior Court slightly disappointed. I arrived in the courtroom on time only to find out that the judge changed the court date and I never received an updated subpoena from the prosecutor’s office. The arraignment is set to take place tomorrow and fortunately I will not need to be present because the youth plead guilty to possession of a firearm and my assault case is not going to be pursued.
On one hand I’m thankful that I don’t have to testify in court and possibly send the youth to jail for a longer period. Yet on the other hand, I’m unsure if justice is really being served on my behalf. Did the youth decide to obtain a gun because he got tired of fighting people with his bare hands? Is the charge of illegal possession of a firearm a more serious crime than assaulting someone? Justice might be blind, but in some ways I feel that this case is written in Braille.
As I stated above, I did not want the kid to be jailed for his crime against me, rather I was seeking some sort of written apology, but now I don’t think any of that will happen. In this respect, I don’t feel that justice is being served on my behalf. It would have been nice to have some sort of resolution regarding my case, instead of it being subsumed by the weapons charge.
Regardless, my thoughts are with the youth and I hope he does not become a more hardened criminal while he is incarcerated. Or worse, I wonder if he’ll be put on probation and released tomorrow after the trial concludes. I think it would be best to contact the prosecutor tomorrow afternoon to find out what will happen to the youth and if I should keep an eye out for him in my neighborhood.
1/5/09 – 4:30pm – An official from the DC Superior Court delivered another subpoena to me. It was dated December 22nd, 2008, and it would have been nice if I would have received it last year
instead of 6 hours after
I arrived in court and 12 hours before I was scheduled to appear in court again. Judging by what the prosecutor told me this morning, I can ignore this subpoena, but I called the prosecutor’s phone number on the subpoena and asked her to confirm that my presence is not required in court tomorrow.
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