2 flash mob-style attempted armed robbery incidents reported in DC

- A string of armed robberies have several D.C. neighborhoods on alert. In one case, police say two women were ambushed by eight suspects in the American University Park neighborhood.

The victims are sisters and are said to be in their 60s, but they were able to outrun a group reportedly wearing ski masks and hoodies.

The women escaped, but so did the suspects, and now, police are on standby just in case.

“I hope the police will keep a good eye on the neighborhood and get these kids, whoever they are, out of there,” said a D.C. resident who did not want to be identified.

The police presence comes less than 24 hours after the two victims were surrounded by eight mask-wearing suspects. A police report says one of the suspects demanded the sisters take everything out of their pockets. Instead, the victims made a run for it and escaped.

“It's surprising to me,” said Ted Petersen. “It's usually a very safe neighborhood.”

Petersen has lived in this Northwest D.C. neighborhood for 20 years and said nothing like this has ever happened in the neighborhood.

“Not like that, no,” he said. “This is the worst incident I've heard of in this immediate neighborhood.”

Petersen lives just steps away from where the attack happened near 46th Street and Butterworth Place.

By Monday night, two police cruisers were stationed there.

“Obviously an incident like this raises safety concerns, not a good sign,” said Petersen.

He said the neighborhood does not have a watch group.

“But blocks take care of each other pretty well,” said Petersen.

Petersen, who was initially headed out his home, went back inside his home to warn his wife and neighbors about Sunday night’s attack.

The close call comes on the same night a man was reportedly walking home when up to ten teenagers wearing masks and hoodies held him at knifepoint. That incident happened just five blocks away on 44th and Davenport Streets.

Within a half hour and just a few blocks away, eight suspects confronted two women. Neighbors said the victims, who are in their 60s, described the suspects as a group of men wearing ski masks and hoodies. They demanded everything out of their pockets, but the women ran and got away.

This comes on the heels of two incidents that happened in Georgetown. In mid-November, a mother said five juveniles surrounded her vehicle as she put her baby in a car seat. They smashed her sunroof before she got away.

A flash mob is also responsible for entering a Diesel clothing store in Georgetown on November 24. They grabbed several items inside the store before leaving.

On a neighborhood discussion board, residents are asking if these cases are connected. D.C. Police Second District Commander Melvin Gresham wrote on the discussion board that police have no reason to believe Sunday night’s cases are connected to events in Georgetown.

Police said they are investigating all of these crimes and have increased foot and vehicle patrols in the area as they always do this time of year because of the Christmas holiday. They are asking people to be on the lookout doing their everyday activities, and if something doesn't feel right, to travel another way.

Residents posted concerns on a Second District community email discussion group. In it, a person identified as Lieutenant Corrine Hughes said there is no evidence these two robberies are connected in any way.

Hughes also said police have increased patrols in the area due to the Christmas holiday and are investigating both cases vigorously.

These flash mob-style robberies that struck two neighborhoods in one day less than an hour apart bring the tally to four in the last month.

On the same discussion board, police urged residents to be on the lookout when walking, running or going about every day routines. Police advise residents who spot suspicious people to wait or go another way.

These two attacks come on the heels of two incidents in Georgetown last month.

In one case, a mother says a group of teenagers accosted her as she was putting her baby in a car seat.

In a separate incident, a group reportedly grabbed several items from a Diesel clothing store before escaping.

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