DC's carjacking crisis hits Congress: GOP threatens local leaders

It appears Republicans are not stopping at the House. 

A statement sent Tuesday, in response to a congressman carjacked in the city the night before, threatens to recall local D.C. leaders if they don’t address crime.

Tuesday, Democratic congressman Henry Cuellar from Texas opened up on his experience carjacked Monday night by what he describes as three younger suspects. The representative, bringing some levity to the situation, told reporters: "Three guys came out of nowhere. They pointed guns at me. I do have a black belt, but I recognized when you got three guns, I looked at one with a gun, another with a gun – and one behind me. So they said they wanted my car, I said sure. You’ve got to keep calm during those situations. And then they took off."

He also joked that his sushi was returned, but the situation he faced is a serious one that has become more frequent in the District – with carjackings skyrocketing since the pandemic.

A D.C. police dashboard showed that as of Tuesday, the city is at 753 carjackings so far this year. That's a 109% increase from this same time last year.

A D.C. police assistant chief told reporters the department does not have enough officers to combat carjackings, and that they do not know what’s behind the recent spike. The assistant chief did say while the number of carjackings are up, so are the arrests recently, as MPD moves around resources.

Capitol police are leading the investigation into the congressman’s carjacking and believe the suspects are around 16 years old based on their build. The carjacking happened at around 9:30 p.m. Monday as Rep. Cuellar was going to his Navy Yard apartment building by New Jersey Ave. and K Street Southeast.

His phone and Toyota were recovered.

"I don’t see the city having a hold of government approach and a strategic plan to reduce gun violence. That’s something we’ve talked about a lot. And we also know what we talk about –whether it’s the U.S Attorney and lack of prosecutions," D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen told FOX 5 on Tuesday, as he answered a number of questions around crime and whether the council’s previous actions are working.

The D.C. Police Union blames Allen, the city’s former Judiciary and Public Safety Committee chair, for D.C.'s violent crime reaching 20-year highs.


Congressman Cuellar said he tried to keep calm while carjackers aimed guns at him, demanded vehicle

Texas congressman Henry Cuellar said he tried to remain calm when three armed carjackers pointed guns at him Monday night and demanded his vehicle while he was parking his car in D.C.'s Navy Yard neighborhood.

In 2020, Allen spoke to FOX 5 about the proposed $15 million cut to the police budget, saying then that a reduction of MPD is not an elimination and that the city has to "right size" how and where it invests. 

On Tuesday, Allen and other council members argued they still funded the budget asked for — just not the budget increase.

In further questioning to Allen, FOX 5 reporter Stephanie Ramirez asked, "None of these issues are new. We’ve been seeing this for years now. So whose responsibility is it to initiate that plan?"

"Don’t you think it’s everybody’s plan? I mean that’s what government should be doing …" Allen responded.

FOX 5 also spoke with ANC Commissioner Chander Jayaraman, who’s been critical of Allen’s responses to the crime the city is facing now.  

"What he’s saying is there’s a fragmented system, but I don’t see any answers," said Jayaraman, noting how many families are leaving the city. "How do we bring those pieces together? You know, it’s not just more social workers. I’m sure social workers would come into an area where they’re worried about getting home safely at night."

In a statement, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser told FOX 5, "There is no higher priority than the safety of our residents and those who work in and visit D.C. We are using every tool available to reduce crime and support those tasked with enforcing the law and holding those accountable who break it. Although we are seeing some positive trends in recent crime statistics, we are troubled when any individual is in a situation that makes them feel unsafe in our city. We are grateful for the work of MPD in its response, and we will continue to identify common-sense solutions necessary to fill any gaps in our public safety ecosystem, including proposing and supporting policies that ensure we are also addressing long-term, complex public safety challenges."

No arrests have been announced in the representative's carjacking yet.

The U.S. Attorney has already committed to charging 16 and 17-year-old carjackers as adults.