WASHINGTON - The murder of a Democratic National Committee staffer has the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Northwest D.C. on edge. There have been no arrests and police continue to say they need more help in order to solve the crime.
Until recently, most people knew about Bloomingdale as the neighborhood affected by huge floods during severe storms that have damaged homes in recent years. But now, the talk is all about the murder and the troubling increase in robberies. Residents said they are terrified and they want the crime wave to stop.
Flowers now mark the spot where 27-year-old Seth Rich was shot to death early Sunday morning. He had nearly made it home when at least one gunman took his life – apparently for nothing.
Police have no witnesses in this case. According to a D.C. police homicide commander, investigators were going to examine recent robberies for clues. These crimes have unsettled this community just north of Rhode Island Avenue near Howard University.
It is a major concern D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier was asked to address at a news conference at the Wilson Building this week.
“Yes, we did see some robberies in that area in the past four weeks,” she said. “That was on the radar of the Robbery Task Force because it was a pattern in an area that we had not seen consistent robberies in before.”
According to the D.C. police crime mapping website, robberies in and around the Bloomingdale neighborhood are up 50 to 80 percent in the last two months when compared to the same time last year. And they are carried out in a variety of different ways.
Back on June 19, a man was walking northbound on 3rd Street, NW, when a suspect came up from behind and tapped him on the shoulder. The victim was then sprayed in the face with pepper spray and his iPhone was taken along with cash.
Then on June 24 just after 2 a.m., four people were walking up S Street near First Street when four suspects sitting on a ledge suddenly jumped out. One suspect pulled out a gun and demanded the victims’ property. The victims turned over their wallets, cell phones and cash.
On July 6 just after midnight, a woman was standing in an alley near 1st Street and Adams Street when two men approached her. One suspect had a mask and a silver handgun and told her they wanted her phone. But before taking it, they wanted her to unlock the screen and then disconnect the Find My iPhone app.
"Folks are upset, they are angry, they are terrified, and I suppose if I had to lead with a sentiment, I would say folks are terrified,” said Teri Janine Quinn, president of the Bloomingdale Civic Association and an ANC commissioner. “When you have something like this happen right on your doorsteps, it’s like, ‘Where am I safe?’”
She added, "It's a terrible situation all around, and at this point, folks are looking for an opportunity to grieve as a community, but also to move on to – ‘What do we do now? How do we make ourselves more safe?’”
D.C. police have been going block to block in recent days in the neighborhood looking for any help in solving not only Rich’s murder, but any other crimes that has this community in turmoil.
Rich lived on First Street and was just about a block away from his home when he was fatally shot. The community is holding a vigil Wednesday night to remember the slain Democratic National Committee employee.