Cafe 227

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

New Jack City

So last night, I was sitting in my bedroom doing some work. Both of my windows, which face T Street near the intersection of 13th, were wide open. I'm able to hear everything on the street. It's usually a wonderful cacophony of car alarms, go-go music, and Ethiopoan. Last night, it was silent.

At least it was until about 11:30pm, when I heard a loud, throaty scream. No, not a scream - a yelp? An audible grimmace? It's hard to explain - it's the same sound I imagine Carson Palmer made when Kimo von Oelhoffen mangled his knee beyond repair...

And then silence again. Something wasn't right. My curiosity got the best of me - I poked my head out of the window and saw - right in front of my house! - a short, stocky guy about my age (maybe younger) getting JACKED by three noticeably larger men. One of them was kneeling on his chest with his hands over the guy's mouth, while the other men two dug through his pockets.

My mind raced. "Why isn't anyone doing anything?" I thought. "Wait a minute, why aren't I doing anything?" I grabbed the phone to call 911. No wait, they wouldn't get to my house in time (we've tested their response time before - it takes them approximately 60 minutes to get from the police station at 16th and V to our house at 13th and T. Traffic on U Street's a bitch...) I picked up a large metal pole (don't ask). See, I had just watched the season finale of "24," and I had visions of going all Jack Bauer on their asses. But I didn't have any shoes on. How am I going to single-handedly take on three muggers who are possibly armed without the right pair of athletic shoes? So, I started digging through my closet for the proper footwear...

By this point, the three muggers were done with their victim - they had gotten what they wanted and had run away. The victim slowly got to his feet, visibly upset and addled. He kind of walked in circles for a few seconds, not sure what exactly to do. Then, with a look of sheer desperation, he sprinted eastward down the middle of T street (he clearly wasn't fucking with dark sidewalks anymore).

The whole incident left me extremely unnerved. I mean, I realize that people get mugged in the neighborhood. It's actually happened to one of my best friends. But right in front of my house? While I watched the whole thing?

And what was perhaps most unsettling was that I finally had incontrovertible proof that I am, in fact, a huge pussy. I suppose I've always had my suspicions.


  • It's alright, you're still my hero. You stayed up way past your bed time just to escort me inside armed with a large metal pole. Besides, it's not your fault you didn't call 911. The odds have to be a zillion to one that both of us would call 911 in the same evening, and since I called first, that poor fellow was just screwed.

    By Anonymous lady of the house, at 5:59 PM  

  • very good post. you did all you could.

    By Blogger KOB, at 10:40 PM  

  • The question of why aren't I doing anything is a good question to ask. Yeah, the police can be slow.

    By Blogger Mari, at 7:38 AM  

  • you can make up for it by giving an eyewitness account for the police.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:28 AM  

  • Make up for what? It's not JohnnyShade's fault that someone decided to walk alone in the middle of the night in a still shady part of the city (sorry, but it still is) and end up getting mugged. Let's assume that the blood rushed out of Johnny's head and he intervened. He would have put himself, the victim, and his house in more danger. As JS said, these guys were much larger and possibly armed. All this for what? A cellphone and a few bucks?

    The whole WWJBD (what would Jack Bauer do?) ideology is gonna result in lots guys getting beat down.

    By Anonymous Pancho Claus, at 11:17 AM  

  • 13th and T? Hmm. I don't consider that a shady part of the city, but damn. I was just wandering around 13th and U last night. But I won't be coming by your house, cause you probably won't let me in until the muggers are done with me.

    By Blogger Velvet, at 11:33 AM  

  • V - that's the thing I really feel bad about - not offering a helping hand when it was all said and done.

    I think not intervening was the right decision. I've heard stories of people succesfully fighting back, but I've also heard stories of people who have tried to resist getting cut up pretty good. It's a real-world prisoners dilemma. Who knows - maybe I could have scared them away with my trusty metal stick. But the possible penalty for being wrong made me choose otherwise.

    Plus, our house has already been broken into twice - I certainly don't want to make it more of a target than it already is.

    That said, I can't believe I didn't open the door and let the guy call the police from my house. That's precisely what I feel guilty about. That's what I should've done differently.

    Oh, and on the whole U Street being shady thing - it's not a simple boolean function. Rather, the neighborhood's shadiness factor seems to increase in proportion with the temperature...

    By Blogger Johnny Shades, at 1:21 PM  

  • There were three of, that's frightening.

    By Blogger playfulinnc, at 2:00 PM  

  • Shoot the Mofos thats what I say three less damn thieves in this world

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:17 PM  

  • Aziz, contrary to popular opinion, you are not a girl (can't say female cat on government computer). You are not Jack Bauer, Steven Seagal, Van Damme, etc. You did the right thing by not going out there with a "metal pole". However, in my opinion you should have still called the cops. I know everyone is disgruntled and untrusting of Metro's competency, but that was something serious and should be documented. Look at it this way: if YOU were getting New Jack Citied, wouldn't you want someone to call the cops?
    As for why you hesitated, social psychologists might say you suffered from some sort of "group think" mentality similar to what happened in NYC to a woman named Kitty Genovese (look it up). Long story short, she was getting attacked, a bunch of people saw and heard the attack, did nothing, and she was killed. They all thought someone else was going to call the cops but no one did. I don't know if you were the only witness, but it's possible there were others. Stay safe in DC.

    By Blogger Big Worm, at 5:36 PM  

  • The fact that you started to prepare yourself to go out there is probably more than most other people would have done. And if they had been packin' heat, that metal pole might not have saved you. You gotta look out for yourself too.

    By Blogger The Blonde Menace, at 9:07 AM  

  • Clearly you don't know me, but I'll identify myself as the victim's brother, yes really. I know he plans on contacting you (he's the one who showed me this post). While going out with a metal pole would probably not have been the correct course of action in the given situation maybe making a little bit of noise, yelling something at the muggers, probably would've been enough to send them running before they exerted the completly unnecessary physical damage on my brother (they only brutalized him after they got what they wanted). Given the time and surprise I can't blame you for what you did do, actually EMT was on scene in 3 minutes and the police followed closely behind, do to a little luck and prudent planning which I don't feel like going into right now. My main reason for posting, and please excuse my bit of rage, is Pancho Clause. Pancho- your opinion is all well and good but perhaps when dealing with sensitve situations you think about adding a little sensitvity in your articulation. While they did only get what you say, a couple of bucks and a cell phone, perhaps that yell would have sent them away (while still keeping JS and his house anonymous, obviously what you would be more concerned with in a similar situation... unless maybe it was you on the ground) before breaking no less than 4 bones in his face and neck. Pancho, your total lack of regard for the victim's wellbeing in an already bad situation is astounding to me as a person, let alone as a brother to the victim. While blaming JS for anything is really out of the question, pancho, your indifference for the wellbeing of anyone but yourself is really sad. The world is an awful place where someone walking on a sidewalk could be in danger, but someone like you (pancho) who would rather see someone sit back and do nothing, is what makes the world a lot worse. JS, I thank you for your reporting on the incident and if anyone would like to contact myself or my brother for any reason, you can e-mail me at

    By Anonymous Victim'sBrother, at 2:48 AM  

  • Johnny – I am the “short stocky guy” that was mugged outside of your window… forget the fact that I am 5’8 and 140 pounds (I will let it go that you think I am stocky) ;-). All kidding aside, I want to thank you for your posting. Following what my brother has already posted (and yes he is my bother), there is little left for me to say…

    I can’t say what I would have done in your situation prior to having this happen to me, but I do know what I would do now. Like the saying goes, “hindsight is 20/20”. What happened to me was by NO MEANS your fault. In my optimistic view of the city, I believed things were changing for the better and took a solitary walk home; a mistake, but not one that should have ended the way it did.

    In any case, your observations have already proven to be invaluable and I would like to think that the attention this post has drawn will help even more in the future (both in catching the guys who did this and in preventing it from happening to another). I will recover; my physical injuries are already on the mend, and with the help of those around me (including you, who was brave enough to put what you saw out on the web for all to see) the psychological damage will heal as well. Thank you again for posting.

    By Anonymous stocky survivor, at 6:07 PM  

  • While Joey Porter would have rushed the muggers, I think you were smart to stay inside. Any of those men could have had a gun. AND, you are right about the temperature. Summer has always been murder season in DC.

    To the guy who got mugged- I hope you are ok. Sorry this happened to you.

    By Blogger Garfield, at 1:32 PM  

  • First of all, I would like to say that I AM glad to hear that the victim is ok and I hope that he is doing much better.

    Now I would like to comment on his brother's post and clear up any misunderstanding. I kept my previous post brief because all I wanted to comment on was Johnny Shade's decision to not go outside. That was it. I did not intend to imply anything else.

    Let's assume that he did decide to come running outside and intervene. One of two things could have happened: (1) the muggers could have run away, or (2) they could have pulled out a gun/knife and attack Johnny Shades. After harming (possibly killing) JS, what do you think they would have done to the witness? Assuming a 50 percent chance of either happening, are you willing to take that chance?

    Considering the circumstances, I understand your anger. However, you should also be grateful that the damage was limited to a few broken bones, mental distress, and some lost money. It could have been MUCH worse. I personally know someone who intervened during a break-in and was murdered. Not beaten, not mugged, murdered.

    Yes, JS should have done more than be a spectator at that moment (call the police). I didn't mention that previously.

    Hopefully, we all learned something from this incident.

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." -Edmund Burke

    By Anonymous Pancho Claus, at 9:40 AM  

  • Greets to the webmaster of this wonderful site. Keep working. Thank you.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:59 PM  

  • Hmm I love the idea behind this website, very unique.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:46 PM  

  • tough muggers indeed potenzmittel billig

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:41 PM  

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