Possible MS-13 gang activity in D.C., police say

A recent string of attacks in Northwest D.C. lead police to believe it was gang-related.

WASHINGTON D.C. -- A member of D.C.'s Latino community is warning others as D.C. police investigate several violent incidents possibly connected to a notorious Latin American gang.

A man who asked not to be identified told WUSA9 in Spanish that he’s not scared, but more concerned in his reaction to a string of stabbings and robberies that occurred in the District earlier this week.

The man said just talking about the group can be dangerous so he did not want to be identified. All four victims appeared to be Hispanic males.

"It has a lot of affect, like it's not safe to be out late, um, it's not fun. It's scary to know that they're here, if they are,” said Abiha Bilgrami, who knows about MS-13 from her time spent in California.

D.C. police said the first incident happened last Monday around 11:30 p.m. near the 3100 block of 16th Street NW in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood. Suspects allegedly stole a man's bike and backpack after kicking and stabbing him.

On Tuesday, officers said someone struck a man in the head with a rock and stabbed him in the back around 1:10 a.m. near the 1700 block of Columbia Road NW in the Adams Morgan area.

Just one hour later, police reports said three suspects approached a man on a bicycle and asked him if he was MS-13 near the area here of Columbia Road NW and 16th Street NW. The victim refused to answer and fled, but the suspects chased him down. One suspect stabbed him in the arm, according to the police report.

The fourth incident occurred on Columbia Height's Sherman Avenue at around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. "What are you doing in our block, we are marasalvatruca" is what a suspect said to the victim, according to the police report.

"I don't know about the gang violence. It's just that there's a lot of violence,” Ernesteine McNeill said.

Michael Garcia told WUSA9 he’s newer to the area.

“It's unfortunate that we had some violent incidents in the neighborhood,” Garcia said. “But we have to recognize, we live in an urban community and sometimes violence is going to happen.”

From Northern Virginia to Maryland, authorities have been fighting a surge of MS-13 gang violence in D.C.'s suburbs. Some of camera were surprised to hear the possible connection to last week’s incidents.

"Anda simpre in areas mas claras,” said the unidentified man, telling people in Spanish to stay out of the obscure areas, always walk in the clear ones.

On September 1, D.C. police arrested a 16-year-old from Northwest and charged him with assault with attempt to kill and robbery charges for the incident on August 29.

Police said 18-year-olds Yeison Gomez-Chavez and Christian Mendoza of Northwest have been charged in all four incidents. They face assault with attempt to kill, assault with a dangerous weapon and robbery charges.

None of the victims sustained life-threatening injuries.


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