D.C. Police: “Communication Lapse” in Capitol Hill Robbery, Stabbing

In a community meeting Wednesday evening, D.C. police say there was a "communication lapse" after a 67-year-old woman was robbed and stabbed in the neck near Eastern Market earlier this month.

The attack was reported May 15 around 10 p.m. at the intersection of 9th and C streets SE. The woman told police a stranger wrapped his arm around her neck and told her to be quiet. 

She offered her purse, and the suspect took it -- but not before stabbing her in the neck, leaving a six-inch wound.

Police have since indicated the same man who robbed and stabbed the 67-year-old may have robbed and attacked two other women last Wednesday evening.

The first incident was reported around 9:15 p.m. in the 400 block of M Street NE close to Gallaudet University. A woman in her 20s was walking alone when a man grabbed her from behind and robbed her at knifepoint. She was not injured.

Approximately 30 minutes later, a similar attack was reported near the intersection of Independence Avenue and 8th Street SE. A woman in her 20s walking alone reported being grabbed from behind and robbed at knifepoint. She was stabbed in the neck and is expected to be OK, though the extent of her injuries is unknown.

During a community meeting put together by D.C. Council Member Tommy Wells, First District Cmdr. Jeff Brown acknowledged there was a delay in warning the public.


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"There were some lapses, the ball was dropped in reference to the way things were notified," Brown said. 

He explained a tweet and a police alert were never sent out regarding the first attack because it didn't fit the "criteria" for those alerts -- it was originally classified as an aggravated assault, and Brown said the department doesn't usually tweet those incidents. 

"Unfortunately it wasn't until a couple hours later that this was an actual robbery and even then, there was a vague lookout, so again that didn't fit the criteria," Brown said. 

He went on to say the robbery didn't make it into the daily crime blotter due to a technology issue -- a late night "data refresh."

"This is my district. I take full responsibility," Brown said.

Since then, police have installed portable crime cameras at the locations of the two Capitol Hill robberies and extra officers have been assigned to patrol the area on foot.

Police have also released a YouTube video of the suspect in the first case, who used the victim's credit card at a Maryland gas station.

There have been no new crimes linked to the suspect since last week.

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