Police Beef Up Patrols on Trail After Attacks

Authorities are stepping up patrols on a trail between Washington and Maryland following a number of attacks in recent weeks.

Police say there have been four attacks, including assaults and robberies, on a stretch of the 8-mile Metropolitan Branch Trail that runs from Silver Spring, Md., to Union Station in Washington.

The last incident occurred last week when two men tried to use a Taser on a bicyclist just south of Rhode Island Avenue.

The victim in that incident recounted the story to Prince of Petworth:

"After the cops took my report they told me this is not uncommon on this part of the trail, especially between the hours of 2 and 9 pm (after school hours) and it is probably a good idea to avoid that part of the trail between NY Ave and Rhode Island Ave completely," the victim told PoP.  "The cops said this was the first they had heard of a taser being used, and that normally it is 4 or 5 assailants that will just knock bikers off their bike and rob them."

In early May another biker recounted the following story on the BikeWashingtonDC listserv:

"I had the unfortunate experience of being knocked off my bike last night on my ride home by two cowardly teenage thugs on the Metropolitan Branch Trail between RI Ave and 8th St/Franklin exit. They took a few shots at me as I lie on the ground, but I got one punch into the groin of one of my new acquaintances. At that point they ran away as I gave chase ... They didn't try to take anything, but could have easily stolen my bike."

Police say they have not determined whether the attacks are related. The increased patrols will continue indefinitely.

In the meantime, those who use the trail are frustrated with how police are responding, especially the advice to not use the trail at all. 

From a poster on the MPD 5D listserv, as retold by City Paper:

"So the city and Rails To Trails conservancy and others poured a lot of resources into building this trail to give it over to the thugs? The police, community, trail managers, commuters and others better come together or we will lose this great place to run, walk, and ride!"

5D Commander Andy Solberg posted on the listserv that police "are working on this problem. I don't care to share all on this listserv."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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