Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Christmas Party Hold-Up

Picture it with me ... Friday Night. Midnight, maybe a few minutes past. My roommates and I were hosting our annual Santa Costia party, but it was snowing outside so the numbers were dwindling and only about 35 people remained. The iPod-con-speakers was playing holiday and party favorites, and Home Alone was muted on the TV. Christmas lights, garlands, ribbon-wrapped columns, the works. General merriment all around.

Then Bam!, the front door swung open and four guys, early twenties, in ski goggles and scarves barged in, one waving a handgun (the other three concealing theirs). Turned out they had already robbed some guests on the porch, and even pistol-whipped one in the head. They start yelling "Empty your f***ing pockets!" and "give us everything!"

Freeze the frame and take a step back - this is Anacostia, sure, but this is not the neighborhood I've come to feel really safe in over the past two years. I know almost everyone on my block - and if it hadn't been snowing there would have been a handful of people hanging out and I'm fairly certain the break-in wouldn't have happened. They have my back, and, presumably, I have theirs. Then again, maybe someone I don't know alerted their friends of the glittering target house. Lots of people who usually never come to the neighborhood. Lots of potential goods.

Unpause. "Give us everything!" was their repeated demand. By now most of the party-goers have either escaped out the back door and over fences or are huddled in the corners of the living room floor in varying states of purse and wallet-handing and fear-induced body freeze, only their eyes moving across the scene.

This is my house and these were my guests, so I did my best to take control of the situation by confronting the gunman. "What are you doing?? Everyone just calm down", to which he yell-replied something like "No we taking Everything!" [editor's note: gunman was a broken record with the "We taking Everything" line] and knocked the drink out of my hand with his gun.

Me: "Dude, put your gun down." Him, while lifting his gun: "You want me to put a bullet in your f***ing skull? Give me Everything!" Me, not giving him anything: "Are you serious? This is a Christmas party." The gunman, wearing a purple houndstooth scarf, ski goggles, and gray jeans, thought for a second then asked me where the liquor was.

I think he had the wrong idea about who he was robbing, because this had been a "bring your favorite beverage" party, so the mix included more peppermint schnapps hot chocolate, rosemary martinis, and homebrewed honey wheats than the Grey Goose I'm sure he was hoping for. I held up a few bottles, offering up the Pimm's (my most sacred, the British lawn drink value of which he did not recognize) and a few plastic-bottled tequilas. Unimpressed, the gunman walked back to the front of the house and with the other three left through the front door. His last words as he exited were, like some cornball line from a movie: "Merry Christmas, Bitches!"

In all, about fifteen people had their stuff stolen. The iPod had been ripped from its cord so there was no soundtrack to the frantic 911-calling that ensued. A couple of housemates and guests had called the police from the backyard so they arrived within a couple minutes, and after hearing each victim's testimony and dusting the liquor for prints, left at around 4:45AM. (The next morning I received kind emails from both Police Chief Lanier and Assistant Chief Groomes) Fortunately, aside from the pistol-whip, nobody was hurt, and everyone made it home safely in the deepening snow.

There isn't a lot of analysis that can really be done at this point. It happened. It was completely unexpected, and it's over. Two of the guys got into a car at the top of the block, so there's no telling where they are from or where they went. As the night unfolded I was most frustrated that this happened in the presence of my guests, and that they would no doubt think differently about a neighborhood that they had grown comfortable with. And frustrated that my own trust had been breached.

But the thing is, if that incident was typical of the neighborhood, I would have left a long time ago. On my way to the Metro yesterday with two housemates we were invited to play snow football, got a tour of soon-to-open Big Chair Coffee, and engaged in an impromptu snowball fight in front of the Morgan Family Fish Fry. Today, the neighbors on my block banded together to shovel out the snow-marshmallow looking cars. These are the people that live in my neighborhood. It ain't perfect, but it's pretty okay most of the time.


Nichole said...

I'm so sorry that this happened to you. I'm glad that everyone is safe.

People will probably be quick to blame East of the River Hooligans, but this stuff can happen anywhere, even the suburban Western Pennsylvania town where I grew up. (My father was a police officer, so Christmas was always a time of fire hazards and burglaries, as much as one of peace on earth and goodwill toward men).

Merry Christmas and I hope the rest of your holidays are happy.

Sean Hennessey said...

i'm so sorry that happened.
glad you're okay though.

City Girl said...

So sorry that you had to go through this, but admire how you kept your cool with the robbers. Also like how you kept the focus on the fact that you live in a good neighborhood with a strong community!

Happy Holidays!

Sarah Jane said...

I'm glad you're all okay. You always were good at getting your way through clever talking! Like when you talked the cell phone company out of unfair charges? So sorry this happened with all those guests there.

Eric Sibley said...

Sorry to hear about all of this. Please update with any developments from the police.

Brian G Flores said...

Don't want to sound like a hater, but this is why I don't go to Anacostia.

Hannah said...

that sounds scary, David, and I'm sorry it happened.

at least it was a fashion-forward robber????? ("purple houndstooth scarf") maybe he took a quick jaunt to the Georgetown Burberry store before crashing Santa Costia?

Sariane Leigh said...

You are a brave and a little crazy!

I am sooo happy and relieved to read that everyone is okay. I am disappointed and saddened that your guests had to experience this with all the work you do to show a different side of Anacostia. I think that this could happen anywhere. But I also think the fact tht these folks (likely kids) had nothing else to do but bumrush a Xmas party on a blizzard proves that we need to work on the folks' mentality as well as the makeover while we make real progression in SE to take place.

Patricia said...

I heard about this from Ashley R, and I am so sorry that it happened. Though I am very glad that you write so positively about the neighborhood, as I also work in this neighborhood through my position at the Capital Area Food Bank. I also believe that wonderful people who love each other, as well as those around them, live in this neighborhood. Thanks for your reflection on this, and for standing up for the beautiful part of Washington that few people get to experience.

Hope that the holidays are bright for you and your neighbors,

Anacostiaque said...

Man, what a bummer!

First car-jackings on Capitol Hill, now this. Clearly, the criminals are out and about this season. Thank goodness nobody was hurt or this would've had a much more tragic ending.

Let's band together and remain viglilant and on the lookout.

DCGuy said...

How about a blog post on DCs Council's moves to restrict your right to have a gun in your home for self defense?

jaybeas said...


Do you avoid Capitol Hill because there have been armed carjackings? Adams Morgan because of the regular muggings? There have been people assaulted in Georgetown.

Crime happens all over the city. If you think it's limited to Anacostia, you're not a hater - you're a moron.

Jamie said...

@DCGuy, can you explain the scenario in which that would have helped in this situation?

Unless you are in the habit of keeping your gun in your holster all the time, I can't really imagine how the homeowner would have been able to go get it in the short time this happened.

Even if he did, do you really think that pulling a gun on four armed intruders, in the presence of 20 or 30 bystanders, would be a great idea?

I'm always amazed at how the gun nuts think that owning a handgun makes you the equivalent of a super-hero in an action movie. The reality is, in almost every situation, it would do you no good, or make things worse.

This had the best possible outcome. Nobody was hurt. I'm having a hard time imagining how it would have been better had more guns been involved.

Anna D. said...

whoa, Garbs- I'm glad you're okay! And way to stick up for yourself- I'm not sure I could have been so calm in a moment like that.

jaybeas said...


I was coming back to respond to DCGuy, but it looks like you already did so, and articulated it much better than I could have. So I'll just post this reply to DCGuy and say "what Jamie said."

mr whirly said...

its not a good idea to talk back to people when they have a gun in your face, and you sound pretty fucking stupid when you write on your blog about your defiance of them in an attempt to sound rebellious and cool.

DCGuy said...

I think he did the exact right thing in this situation (well, maybe not the talking back).

What I am saying is that knowing that I live in a place susceptible to home invasions, it might be something to consider. (but good luck with the process).

If not, that is cool. Your choice.

December 21, 2009 1:16 PM


David, this is so scary to hear. I'm glad to know that you and your guest are okay.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it may have been indiscreet to address the criminals with the expectation of reason, but in the moment probably the host was thinking of protecting his guests. I doubt very much that he spoke in defiance but rather with incredulity that there are folks with this low a human existence.

Anonymous said...

DC Guy---The presence of guns in either the bad guys or the good guys hands means MORE shooting. I can only imagine with horror the scene if the host had lunged for a gun in a drawer!

The Advoc8te said...


You sir are a moron.

If home invasions were so prevalent in the Anacostia neighborhood would this be so shocking? They don't and residents and neighbors are understandably upset and outraged. If you won't want to come to Anacostia or any Ward 8 neighborhood because of the little bit that you think you know then I think we are all the better for it.

David you handled it very well! I don't think any of us could have been so level headed.

Anonymous said...

you're lucky

hope living in anacostia is still worth it

don't give me any of the 'this could have happened anywhere' crap either

where you live IS dangerous, you bravely accept it

The Advoc8te said...

@Anonymous. Since you so cowardly opted to leave your comment with no name could you please let us know how long you have lived in David's neighborhood or the Anacostia neighborhood in general? That's right - you don't, yet you still consider yourself an expert.

Really stupid.

DCGuy said...


I am all for neighborhood pride, but are you really suggesting that crime rates in Anacostia are no different from crime rates elsewhere in the city?

Ms. V said...

I'm glad yo hear everyone is safe. I'm sorry this had to happpen.

The Advoc8te said...


All the more supporting my premise. Crime is a problem everywhere - to single out the Anacostia neighborhood is short sighted AND stupid. And I stand by that. Most of this "expert knowlege" comes from snippets of often one sided news reports about "Anacostia" (which has become an inacurate term used to describe everything East of the River). Anacostia is a small neighborhood in Ward 8. If it was the equivaqlent of Irag or the Wild Wild West I would imagine we would see the National Guard stationed at every block and folks driving through metal dectors just to get home. There is crime in Capital Heights, Dupont, Trinidad, etc. If someone said in response to an incident of crime "tht is why I avoid Capital Hill at all cost" they would look like an idiot. Just because they replaced "Capital Hill" with "Anacostia" doesn't make them look anyless stupid.

I am not blind to crime but I am neither going to write off an entire community because of a few low life thugs who may or may not even live in it.

Anacostiaque said...

Anacostia is still on the front end of transition. Things will change, but I expect a bumpy ride given the economy. If folks give up, the losers win.

The momentum of the influx will not change, as the societal factors are way too strong. Anacostia will never go back to being what it was 20, 10 or even 3 years ago.

It's not a RACE thing, it's a CLASS thing... There is probably some spite involved in all of this, as folks feel they are losing out...

We need a MAJOR environmentally friendly factory setup in DC somewhere, where low-skilled credentials and a prior record is acceptable to put hundreds of DC folks to work.

Catherine said...

@DC Guy---

Actually, you have the "right to have a gun in your home for self defense" as long as it's not a handgun. Rifles and shotguns (which, I've been told countless times after my own burglary, are the best option for home protection) are legal to have in your home in the District.

Not that I'm advocating getting one, or claiming that a shotgun would have made a difference in this situation (actually, it probably would have made it MUCH worse).

Just sayin' might want to amend your complaint a little.

Anonymous said...

You should move. Not because of what HAS happened. But because of what COULD happen next. They know where you live. They likely saw all the nice possessions you have in your home. I am sure you work away from home during the day. You are on record as punking these young guys in the newspaper. Black guys ( I presume they are black) live and die for respect.

It just isn't worth it dude. I am a landlord in SE. Anacostia isn't going to gentrify fast enough. Five years ago, a friend of mine was living in a condo building over there. Young thugs robbed a pregnant woman and made her get face down in the snow while threatening to kill her. All for a petty robbery. I am black. Things are not changing ANY TIME soon. Ask any objective black person you know and they will reluctantly tell you the same.

The only reason most black people live in these neighborhoods is because they can not afford to move. If you can afford to move, then it is reasonable to ask why in the hell are you living there in the first place?

Anonymous said...

Thats too sad. Hope they get theirs. Really disgusting that something like this happened during this time of year at a holiday gathering.

Im sorry it happened...

The Advoc8te said...

@Anonymous 10:03pm. You really should see a professional for all that self hate you have, assuming you are black of course. That's not natural. lol.

"Black guys ( I presume they are black) live and die for respect."

Only a crazy person would say something like that. What is this "Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome" - Two men enter and one man leave.

These comments are make me wonder sometimes. We need universal healthcare ASAP and I hope it comes with plenty of mental health options.

DCGuy said...


Thanks. Trust me, I am well aware of DC's gun laws. The the Remington 870 not to far from me to prove it.

You can have a handgun now, but the process is incredibly expensive. They even upped the process for shotguns for no reason since you and I got ours. You now need to take the $200 handgun course to register a shotty.

What a joke.

Anonymous said...

The Advoc8te,
As usual, people like you respond with personal attacks. There is a reason people refuse to live in Anacostia. And it has little to do with racism and the other stuff you mention. It is a real and present fear for their life. If you don't like that, then you should start with the guys that robbed this party. Not with me.

These young guys know where he lives. What is to stop them from coming back for his possessions? Don't act like it doesn't or hasn't happened.

If I were him, I would look at the lackadaisical response from MPD and draw my conclusions from that. MPD can not and will not be able to protect you. It is not above reason that MPD may be aware of the perps when you consider the officer in SE charged with murder just last week.

Anonymous said...

I am glad everyone made it safe. The host sounded cool, calm, collected and probably diffused a potentially lethal situation.

One pet peeve though, I find it disingenuous when people suggest that there is not disproportionately more crime in ward 8, especially east of the Anacostia. It's not a personal attack, a racial insult, or "hating" to mention this. It's just a fact.

Sure there is crime all over the DC area but the level of violence in Anacostia is unreal.

DC Handgun Info said...

You may not believe this, but some guys DO carry a defensive handgun with them in the house...

If I lived in Anacostia, I would definitely carry a Smith & Wesson "Airweight" in a pocket holster, inside my house, precisely because home invasions are on the rise, as you have witnessed. I used to live near Eastern Market, and some kids(?) kicked in a panel on my six-panel front door while the house was empty and ran through the place, not finding anything of value to steal/fence. It's a terrible feeling to have hostile strangers in your place!

All that said, you handled it the right way: You weren't going to successfully shoot four armed dudes in your living room. Thank God the bad guys didn't fire any shots.

If you had fired, you likely would have ended up with "friendly" casualties on the floor and some pissed-off hoodlums who would come back later for revenge.

What's your take on owning a defensive handgun while at home?

P.S. Just the other day, a dirtbag slashed the throat of a Baltimore woman who paid him to shovel her snow. Sickening...

Jamie said...


Question for ya.

Instead of carrying a gun on your belt around the house with you, if you're that afraid for your life, why not just lock the doors?

Has anyone really, really, ever been involved in a home invasion in which:

1) They were home
2) They were awake
3) The intruder broke through a locked door or window so quickly that someone at home didn't have plenty of time to get a baseball bat (or their gun, if they are you) and call 911?

Really? REALLY?

No. It just does not happen. It only happens that way in the movies or when a swat team is coming to get you.

If I was living in such fear that I felt I had to carry a gun, on my person, IN MY HOME, well shit. I'd probably move to Montana if psychological treatment was not effective.

Hilarious ironic postscript to this comment: my word verification is "psycha"

DC Debutante said...

I first want to say David you are great to stand up to these thugs. They have no respect for anything or anyone. And the snow gave them an advantage because it never snows in DC and people were not out and about as they usually are. These young idiots are not coming back. To the other comments left, home invasions are happening all over the country. I have three police officer cousins in other cities and DC. They have all seen a spike in these types of crimes due to the economy and the up coming holiday. Wards 7 and 8 are for the most part friendly neighborhoods. Just being out in the snow this weekend talking to neighbors, helping with entrapped cars and having snow ball fights with teens showed me how great a community we live in. We have our challenges but I feel safe. I lived in PG county most of my life and saw wayyyy more crime, trust me! (Home invasions, shootings, car jackings).

Rev. Motley said...


sorry to hear about the misfortune of you and your guest. It goes to show that no matter how hard we try to turn things around there are those who still don't have the civility and socialization we expect from our fellow citizens. Please know that you are in our prayers and thank you for the latter observations which more depict the community in which we live, play and raise our children.
Take care and Merry Christmas, in spite of the situation. Rev. and Mrs. Motley, your W Street neighbors.

Deanwoodenizen said...

DG, hate to hear about this unfortunate incident but glad that it's not a tragic one. You really are "cool hand Luke." I'll leave the social and political commentary for another day. Peace & blessings to your family and you!

Unknown said...

First, the robbery of your home and guests was a horrible and inexcusable violation. However, I am curious to know if this was a party of white people at your house in the hood or whether your neighbors were invited and in attendance? The gentrification of Anacostia is well underway and works best when both indigenous and newcomers make an effort to mingle socially--not just for shoveling snow off the cars or an impromptu gathering on the street. There are quite a few Black gay people living very close to you. You should get to know them better and build your network of genuine friends.

Jamie said...

@CoitScholar, I will not speak for the author but from my own point of view... why is this relevant?

I know many of my neighbors and we talk on the street. Very few of them have ever been in my house, black white or otherwise.

I don't think it's required that you become good friends with your neighbors. Most people already have a lot of friends when they move somewhere, and building new friendships takes a lot of time and effort. My life is pretty well established, and I'm not going to invest copious amounts of free time trying to become best buddies with my neighbors.

While new may friendships form organically with some neighbors, the vast majority of the social gatherings that I have are not the sort where I really want to play host to a group of my close friends, the people who I really want to spend my leisure time with, as well as some acquaintances who I invited just because they live on my street.

It won't go so far as to say the notion is offensive, but the implication seems to be that this might not have happened if the author had made more of an effort to befriend gay black people in his neighborhood. That's just weird to me. I think people should make an effort to get to know their neighbors, but having them on your regular party invite list is a whole different ballgame that most people are not really up for.

DC Debutante said...

LOL @ reaching out to Gay Black Neighbors! that was so random.

Shannon said...

To build on the discussion between CoitScholar and Jamie, I do believe there's merit in knowing your neighbors and befriending a few of them. It is a safety issue - I know my building fairly well, and I think if something happened to me my neighbors would take notice.

However, I'm not going to invite the crazy hoarder lady next door for tea on the off chance I get robbed one day. My actual friends are strange enough.

What this tells me, as a frequent hostess, is I need to get back in the habit of locking my door - it's so much easier to let people drift in and out, but it's obviously a big safety issue.

Finally, is anyone else picturing a strike force of gay black Anacostians restoring justice to the streets?

DCGuy said...

@ Jamie,

Many, many times does that scenario play out-but they are rarely reported in the press unless someone dies. Here are some links to Maryland stories alone. Acording to the FBI, guns are used in self defense 80,000 times a year.

No, I don't fear for my life. I have a shotgun for sport, but have it handy for self defense of last resort as well--just like I have a fire extinquisher. That does not make me a "gun nut".

I also think dave did the right thing in this situation. I was just suggesting that give this incident, he may want to look into his self defense options.

The Advoc8te said...

So now this is David's fault? For what now? So far I've heard it was David's fault for:

1) Living in Anacostia
2) Not carrying a gun on his hip while in his own home.
3) For asking the robbers not to rob
4) For not locking his door
5) For having white friends over
6) For not having any "black gay friends" over to shield him from the "angry black men who live and die for respect)

Jesus. I swear - I see now why I started a blog - there is never a limit in blog topics. How about a simple "I am sorry this happened to you and I am glad you are okay".

The Advoc8te

Jamie said...

@DCGuy, I looked at that fabulous web site of documented stories, yet none of the ones I read really fit the scenario I described:

In your home
Doors locked
Not asleep

Here are the first several:

"The victim.. was talking with his wife in the garage at about 8:25 p.m." == Not in home with doors locked

"broke into his mother and his uncle?s home between 2:30 a.m. and 2:45 a.m. by breaking a lock and window in the back door" == asleep, doors locked

"Woman Kills Husband in Apparent Self-Defense" == Ummm...

"A Glen Burnie family tackled an armed man who broke into their apartment, grabbed his handgun" == not their gun, asleep (midnight)

"Police received a call reporting a shooting at the 3800 block of Hayward Ave. about 1:10 a.m." == asleep

"Police say Michael Evans and Corey Adams of Petersburg, Virginia came into the house and demanded money" == presumably doors not locked (does not say broke in or anything really)

DCGuy --- After reading the first ten stories, none of which involved someone saving the day because they were carrying their gun on their person while at home, I'm getting pretty bored, if you would like to point one out I'm glad to read.

DCGuy said...

Sure. Here you go.

Jamie said...

1. Door locked.
2. She obviously had time to call 911 and get her gun, a shotgun, as the story says.

In case you forgot already, you were trying to explain why it's necessary to carry a handgun on your belt in your own home with the doors locked. This meets none of the criteria of that situation.

Jamie said...

Oh wait DCGuy, here's one that fits your profile!!

"Woman Who Carried Open Gun To Kid's Soccer Game Shot And Killed in Murder/Suicide"

DCGuy said...

@ Jamie,

You are a tool. Where did I say you should carry a gun around all the time on your belt in case someone breaks in. Twice I sad that I thought the OPer acted correctly in this situation. Having a gun would not have helped. I just suggested that since he has had this happen, he may want to consider his home defense options.

Look, you obviously don't think you can trust yourself to own a firearm and I respect that-but stop projecting.

Jamie said...

Jamie: "Unless you are in the habit of keeping your gun in your holster all the time..."

DCGuy: "What I am saying is that knowing that I live in a place susceptible to home invasions, it might be something to consider."

Jamie: "Instead of carrying a gun on your belt around the house with you, if you're that afraid for your life, why not just lock the doors?"

If in fact that's not what you were talking about in every successive response then you have a serious reading comprehension problem.

If you're just talking about having a gun in your house, at no point in the history of the District of Columbia has this been illegal.

The whole point here was that in this situation as described there would have been absolutely no benefit to having a gun, unless he had it on his person at the time. And even that would have likely made things a lot worse.

You started this whole thing by saying "How about a blog post on DCs Council's moves to restrict your right to have a gun in your home for self defense?"

Yet, so far, you haven't been able to demonstrate how that would have been of any value at all in what happened here.

If you aren't talking about this situation, then what's the point of bringing up a discussion about gun control in a situation where a gun would have been useless or negative in this situation?

DCGuy said...

I know I should not even bother but

DCGuy: I think he did the exact right thing in this situation (well, maybe not the talking back).

DCGuy: I also think dave did the right thing in this situation. I was just suggesting that give this incident, he may want to look into his self defense options.

Again, I don't think a gun would have helped in this situation.

And the point of the original post was that DC makes it very hard and expensive to own a firearm in your home. Personally, I think the gun laws are classist and borderline racist. The council has basically reserved the right to own a firearm for those with Ward 3 incomes.

Unknown said...

I am really sorry to hear this awful news. Very glad no one was hurt. Happy Holidays and thank you for sharing!

DC Debutante said...

These comments are so crazy! David, it was too much snow for me to come to your party but if you have it next year I will be in attendance!

Anonymous said...

This is why you have a gun in your home, I would have popped the guys square in their foreheads.

Mme.Meow said...

I shed a tear when I read the part about losing your Pimm's. I am so sorry this happened.

Anonymous said...

David, we live in SW in the Hood and have our own issues, though SE seems closer to a war zone.

sounds like time to "lock" the party inside at least and from now on we will have perimeter security team, on duty for our block parties.

this coming year folks are going to get even more desperate, time to be even more careful anywhere in america, folks are hurting and likely to be aggressive.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad everyone is alright and David is still alive to share his story. Very sad to hear though...

These types of incidents just promote the negativism surrounding Anacostia, which is full of good, decent people. Good People tormented and characterized by a small minority of lost souls.

Every car I've ever owned has been broken into in NW. Neighbors' homes have been robbed and visitors mugged. Everything that happens in SE also happens in NW.

I have many friends who have bought and moved to Anacostia recently. I just bought a house there and will be moving from NW in a few weeks.
I believe in the changes that are happening in Anacostia. I can believe in the change because we are the change.

Dick said...

What a heart-pounding christmas party. But it will go as time is running.

Brandon Green said...

How awful! Glad you're ok though.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

What did you White liberals expect when you live in the hood? Also COMMENT MODERATION is another word for censorship. What ever happened to free speech. What a JOKE.

Jamie said...

"Also COMMENT MODERATION is another word for censorship"

That's hilarious! I suppose cleaning up graffiti on your fence is also censorship?

Free speech doesn't mean you have to let anyone vent AT YOUR GIG or ON YOUR PROPERTY. Go get your own blog, it's free!