City Desk

Who’s Telling the Truth About the Orange Line Robbery?

Police Confirm Some Elements of Metro Robbery StoryMaybe an anonymous, and undoubtedly rattled, witness is overselling a Dec. 23 train robbery. Or maybe an image-conscious Metro is underselling it. Either way, a Metropolitan Police Department report connected to a robbery that resembles the one in question contradicts both.

According to the witness' story, which was posted on the blog Unsuck DC Metro, if you happened to be riding Metro home the evening of the 23rd, you might as well have been a prospector traveling by railroad in the late 1800s. Six masked marauders burst onto the Orange Line train at Stadium Armory station "between 6 and 6:30 p.m."  At gunpoint, the raiders ordered some of the male passengers of the crowded car to the floor, kicked them for awhile, and stole their valuables. The masked men then " jumped off at the next station and ran."

When reporters, including Washington City Paper's William F. Zeman, called Metro about the incident, transit officials put out a statement. They confirmed something happened, but Metro's version of events downplayed some of the more dramatic elements of the tale: There were only two robbers, and they committed the act with their bare hands. "The victims did not report the use of a weapon during the incident," said Metro. Even more comforting, the supposedly kicked males walked away with only a few scratches. "The victims were treated for minor lacerations at the station," Metro said. Metro also said the culprits were later arrested by transit cops.

Though no reference to the Orange Line is made, an MPD police report obtained by City Desk seems to be about the same caper. In this incident, as in Metro's story, there were two victims. The police report identifies them both as juveniles who were robbed of the type of items—cellphones and clothing—Metro says its unfortunate passengers were deprived of. A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, says it's the only robbery listed around the time and area the Orange Line robbery occurred; even if transit police had been called to the scene of the Orange Line robbery first, MPD would have shown up and done its own report. Though Metro crime is handled by transit police, "they do assist us," Metro spokesperson Steven Taubenkibel says of MPD.

In the report, MPD says there weren't six suspects, the way the witness said, or even two, the way Metro said. There were three. But the report agrees with the witness account on one one important issue: There was a gun. One victim told cops that a robber pointed a silver revolver at his head and made a demand: "You already know what time it is, so hand over what you got." In the MPD account, though, the victim is hit in the head with the gun. There's no mention of kicking.

Neither MPD or Metro has responded to inquiries regarding whether MPD's report is about the same incident or why that report might contradict Metro's statement.

Photo by hyku via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0

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