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D.C. police have no new leads in their investigation of a string of violent robberies on Capitol Hill, a Metropolitan Police Department commander told more than 100 residents during a meeting at the Hill Center.
In all three robberies, the victims were female and walking alone. Two of them occurred near the Eastern Market Metro station on May 15 and May 21, while a third, which police believe is connected, happened near the NoMa-Gallaudet Metro station on May 21. The suspect had a knife and stabbed or cut two of the women. In one of the robberies, a man forced the woman into an alley and tried to lift her skirt up, but she resisted. He then stabbed her in the neck and robbed her.
Since the attacks, police have increased their presence in the Capitol Hill—-with more officers on bike and foot patrol—-and installed a light tower on 9th and C streets SE, said Commander Jeff Brown of MPD’s First District. Police are also employing more covert tactics, like assigning plainclothes officers to patrol the area. Police believe the suspect may be driving a Chrysler 300 vehicle and already released a video with footage of a person of interest.
Throughout the hour-and-half meeting, residents asked questions about the robberies and shared broader concerns about crime and police response in the neighborhood. On May 6, a 60-year-old man was robbed and violently beaten along Capitol Hill’s Barracks Row. He ultimately died from his injuries and police have arrested two suspects in connection with the murder.
Brown said that when comparing the first five months of 2013 with the first five months of 2014, there has been an 18 percent drop in robberies in the First District. But when comparing just May 2013 with May 2014, there’s been an uptick in robberies.
“[The meeting] draws attention to the matter, but I’m not sure it fixes systematic issues,” Brian Pate, an ANC commissioner for the neighborhood, said in an interview. “I think people are shocked [by the recent robberies] and it has a chilling effect in the neighborhood.”
Alyssa Reiner, a longtime resident of Capitol Hill who walks home from the Metro station every evening, said that while the meeting may not yield any concrete changes, it’s a way to show city officials that the neighborhood is paying attention. “I think they need to hear that we expect more,” she said. “It’s obviously nerve-wracking.”
Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, who called the meeting, also fielded questions from residents.
“Eventually they will solve this crime,” he said. “I’ve got great confidence that these guys will get this person.”
Photo by Perry Stein.