Nine members of an alleged D.C. street gang were charged Thursday with committing numerous crimes, including "flash mob"-style robberies and assaults on sleeping homeless people.
The gang, which called itself "Show Out," targeted vulnerable people, individuals who traveled alone or travelers who were distracted by cellphones.
"I've been able to see the results of the savage beatings on the victims," said police Chief Cathy Lanier. "It's very, very disturbing."
The gang was led by 19-year-old Bernard Trowell, a "self-styled president" who also goes by the name McLovin.
The group members lived all around the District and came together in "social entertainment areas" with their main rally point being Chinatown.
The group traveled mostly at night by public transportation and committed crimes in popular areas such as Foggy Bottom, U Street and Adams Morgan. Sometimes they traveled to Montgomery County to commit their violence, police said.
The crew also is accused of engaging in "flash mob"-style robberies at drug stores, convenience stores and gas stations, in which multiple members flooded into the business at the same time, overwhelming and intimidating the staff, and stealing items.
Some of the attacks were videotaped and displayed online.
Many attacks occurred in Metro stations, where two or more alleged gang members would steal something, and other members would stand by to distract or push down the victim while the attackers escaped.
In one incident, a group of alleged Show Out members beat a man unconscious, robbed him and then attempted to hide his unconscious body. The group has snatched multiple iPhones from unsuspecting victims.
Others charged included seven men and one woman: Deandre M. Williams, 18, Quayshawn L. Leggett, 20, Angel Collier, 18, James D. Matheny, 18, Travis L. Morris, 20, Brandon J. Steele, 18, Wayne E. Wheeler, 20, and Ricardo J. Williams, 20, all of whom are from Washington.
The defendants were charged with participating in a criminal street gang for the purpose of committing violent felonies and misdemeanors, including conspiracy, robbery, aggravated assault, obstruction of justice and destruction of property.
Investigators are continuing to pursue more members of the group.
"I can't tell you how glad I am that we have this first group off of the street," Lanier said, "but we still have a lot of work to do."