WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) — DC Police are investigating a string of robberies and assaults that all took place early Sunday morning along the U Street Corridor in Northwest. Four teenagers have been arrested in the case and in at least one of the incidents, the victims tell FOX 5 they were targeted for being gay.
For just over an hour, a group of young men and teens are believed to have terrorized the popular area for bars and restaurants. The mob allegedly attacked people at random in an effort to steal their phones and wallets.
“He has a laceration on his lip. It’s pretty deep. His front tooth is mostly cracked off. He has welts all over his head. I have some welts too, and scrapes all up and down his knees and chest,” said Cal Craven.
Craven described to FOX 5 what happened to his boyfriend Braden Brecht during what was supposed to be a fun night out with friends. The two were leaving one bar to get to another along the U Street Corridor just before 2 a.m. Sunday when they say they heard yelling.
“We decided to stop and talk for a few minutes, and I guess we were talking kind of close and intimately, I guess, and then out of nowhere, a guy, well two or three guys, started calling him [redacted] and getting in his face and stuff,” said Craven. “Out of nowhere, maybe 12 more guys came up behind me and were just like mobbing him basically. I was trying to fend off one guy, he knocked me on the ground and took my wallet and then I got back up and saw there were like 10 guys on him, and so the only thing could think to do was jump on top of him to try and save him, protect him and I was just screaming for help.”
Police say Craven and Brecht are two of several victims who were assaulted and robbed in the area between 1:45 a.m. and 3 a.m. Sunday.
In each case, several suspects would reportedly approach the victim, start punching or kicking them in the face, and then take off with their wallet and cell phone.
So far, investigators have made four arrests — 19-year-old Akiz Peterson, of Temple Hills, Maryland, 19-year-old Marcus Britt, a 16-year-old boy and a 15-year-old boy, all from Fort Washington.
Police believe there are several more suspects involved in the violent attacks.
“I think what they are targeting is just an area where they know there's a lot of opportunity. They know there’s a lot of people out late at night, unfortunately, sometimes drinking,” said Commander Stuart Emerman of the DC Police. “They are out and about trying to have a good night, trying to enjoy their evening and individuals are preying upon them and that’s unfortunate.”
DC Police say in Brecht’s case, the suspects are being charged with hate bias robbery. A GoFundMe page set up to pay for his medical bills has raised more than $6,000.