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The mayor vowed to protect nightlife spots. Then a Commanders player was shot. – The Washington Post

Two months after D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser launched a program to disrupt “patterns of violence” at three city nightlife hubs, a Washington Commanders running back was shot and injured during an armed robbery on one of those thoroughfares.
Brian Robinson Jr., who was on track to earn a significant role in the upcoming season, was attacked in broad daylight Sunday in the heart of the H Street corridor, a 1½-mile stretch in Northeast Washington full of popular restaurants and bars.
The shooting has drawn national attention to gun violence in D.C. and raised questions about whether the city is doing enough to keep its residents safe — including in the areas where officials have invested additional resources to curb crime.
Along the H Street corridor, violent crime is up 89 percent compared with the same time last year, according to data provided by the city. Robberies, including carjackings, are up more than 100 percent, from 13 at this time in 2021 to 28 so far this year. And there have been eight reported assaults with a dangerous weapon — an increase from five at this time in 2021.
“It just shows you it can happen anywhere and to anybody,” Commanders Coach Ron Rivera said Monday, wearing a “Wear Orange” T-shirt to support the gun violence prevention movement.
Commanders’ Brian Robinson Jr. ‘able to wrestle a firearm away’ in robbery
In June, not long after a 15-year-old was killed and three others wounded in a shooting at an event in the U Street area, Bowser (D) told residents that she had a plan to keep them safe in the busiest entertainment hubs. She vowed to station teams of police officers, transportation officials and other agency employees on H Street, Connecticut Avenue and the U Street corridor on weekend nights through Labor Day.
Two months later, the effectiveness of that strategy is unclear. The mayor’s nightlife teams, which are in service from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, were not active when Robinson was shot.
Robinson was one of three people shot at or stabbed this weekend along the H Street corridor, police said. One man was closing up his smoke shop in the wee hours Sunday, when gunfire blasted through his storefront, according to a police report. That evening, Robinson was approached by two armed males trying to steal his car keys, as patrons at a wine tasting next door watched in fear, according to police and witnesses. Less than 12 hours later, a woman was stabbed three blocks away.
“There are going to be times when incidents do happen,” said Christopher Geldart, deputy mayor for public safety. “But I do believe the strategies we have in place and what we have been able to show in our U Street, H Street and Connecticut Avenue corridors have been a success.”
City officials said they are considering how to redeploy resources to address the spate of violence on H Street, including shifting more D.C. police officers and other uniformed employees from the Department of Transportation to the area. They also said they are planning to extend the program past Labor Day.
On Monday, business owners along the corridor said that they have come to expect occasional violence in their neighborhood and that the events of the weekend did not seem particularly unusual.
Carlos Mata has worked at the AT&T store at 10th and H streets NE for about a year, and said the store has been a target of criminal activity. One morning this winter, for example, he said he arrived at work to find shattered glass and multiple accessories stolen. But he said he has always felt relatively safe at work because the violence, in his experience, typically occurs at night when he is no longer on the clock.
The shooting of Robinson on Sunday felt slightly different, Mata said, because it unfolded in broad daylight. But he said a recent shooting near his house at a Prince George’s County mall had reminded him that gunfire can erupt at any time.
“I pretty much feel as safe as I did two days ago,” he said. “Anything can happen anywhere.”
Anwar Saleem, executive director of H Street Main Street, a business development group, said police and other anti-violence workers are doing all they can to address the uptick of violence in his neighborhood. The only way to stop the gunfire, he added, is to address the root causes of crime through programs such as job training.
“Who the heck in the daylight would think you need a bunch of police on H Street?” he said. “This is something that the police can’t handle alone.”
A man, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation from those involved, said he was entering a nearby office building Sunday evening when he recognized Robinson standing in front of a pharmacy with two other men.
As the man and his adult son entered the office building, he said he saw two young males pull up in a car and walk toward the group of three. He didn’t think anything of it, he said, so he closed the door behind him. Seconds later, the man said he heard at least three gunshots. He and his adult son ducked for cover.
Police said Monday that two males had demanded Robinson’s wallet and keys, but the running back “was able to wrestle a firearm away” from one of the assailants. At that point, the other assailant shot him twice, striking him at least once in the leg, police said.
The man said he approached Robinson and saw police officers demanding that he “get down” to the ground. The man said he repeatedly told police, “He’s an athlete. He’s been shot.”
Police said at least one initial report of the incident claimed a man was in the area with a gun. Robinson, police said, had run a short distance with the firearm he took from the assailant.
“That is how they would respond to someone with a gun at a shooting site,” Geldart said.
D.C. police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said his officers applied a tourniquet on Robinson.
Robinson wrote on Instagram Monday that he had undergone surgery and that it “went well.” Rivera said that “it’ll be a matter of time before he’s back out here.”
Nicki Jhabvala, Lauren Lumpkin and Razzan Nakhlawi contributed to this report.


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