Three students — two juniors and one senior, all boys — were mugged Sept. 29 at 8 p.m. in the pedestrian tunnel under Wisconsin Ave. One of the juniors was beaten after trying to defend his friends. He was sent to the emergency room and has been released.
The students were walking east from Barnes & Noble along the Capital Crescent Trail, MCPD public information officer Britta Thomas said.
Senior Eric Warshawsky reported that six unfamiliar teens approached him and his friends when they were walking along the stretch of the Capital Crescent Trail. One of the muggers grabbed one junior’s arm and demanded money. The other junior pushed the stranger away and asked him to leave.
The assailant then punched the second junior on the side of his face when he didn’t comply, Warshawsky said.
The male then started punching the second junior faster, pushing him against the fence along the trail. The attacker’s accomplices pulled him away, apologized and left, Warshawski said. The students didn’t hand over any money.
The victim was bleeding, had a black eye and heard a ringing in his ears, Warshawsky said. They called a parent for help and later notified police.
“I didn’t really know what to do,” he said.
Principal Alan Goodwin sent an email on Whitnet Monday to alert the community. He hopes the message will remind parents to ensure their children are aware of their surroundings, he said.
“It’s always good to remind people that even Bethesda is not safe,” he said.
Warshawsky had one message he wished to communicate to students:
“Don’t go into that tunnel, and if you get mugged, give them what they want,” he said.
The other two students declined to comment for this story.
The assailant in the mugging is reported to be a white male, 15-18 years old, about 5 feet 3 inches, with a muscular build, Thomas said. His name could be John, she said.
There have been two similar reports along the tunnel recently, one in July and the other a couple weeks later, Thomas said.
Both are believed to have involved 18-20-year-olds and one of the cases is still under investigation, she said.
Police officers patrol the downtown Bethesda area constantly, Thomas said. Kids walking at night should walk in groups, stay in public and well-lit places and keep a cell phone to call for help if needed. They should also ensure that others know where they are, Thomas said.
Goodwin called the event “dismaying” and noted that it happened in a relatively safe area and at an early hour.
“You always have to be vigilant,” he said. “It’s a wonderful world out there, but it can be a dangerous world.”
If you have any information about the incident, please contact the police’s anonymous crime tips hotline at 240-773-TIPS (8477).