As a 29-year-old solar energy analyst lies in a D.C. hospital fighting for his life, the brutal beating of Thomas Maslin on well-to-do Capitol Hill is telling of the two worlds in which many residents live, where crime rate and property value can change from block to block.
Maslin, a husband and father, was found on the doorsteps of one of North Carolina Avenue Southeast's many million-dollar homes with his head beaten in. His attack, which appeared to have occurred on his walk home from a bar early Saturday morning, became the latest violent crime in a neighborhood that has seen a 56 percent increase in violent crimes so far this year compared with this time last year.
"There's an underlying anxiety. People are talking about what's going on," said Ivan Frishberg, an advisory neighborhood commissioner. "This latest incident just put a fine point on it."
|On the rise in D.C.|
|Crime statistics this year through Aug. 18, compared with same time last year|
|Police District||Robbery w/gun||Robbery w/o gun||Assault w/gun||Assault w/o gun||Total violent crime|
|1st||+44% (92)||+1% (277)||+58% (30)||+2% (132)||+10% (555)|
|2nd||-4% (27)||no change (146)||-50% (2)||-19% (101)||-8% (288)|
|3rd||-5% (96)||-3% (367)||-15% (22)||+1% (148)||-3% (658)|
|4th||+9% (105)||+2% (256)||+9% (105)||+23% (31)||+9% (606)|
|5th||+8% (105)||+11 (226)||+21% (64)||+20% (225)||+15% (655)|
|6th||+29% (151)||+20% (240)||-1% (78)||no change (245)||+14 (762)|
|7th||+53% (198)||-1% (275)||+22% (111)||+11% (304)||+14% (925)|
|Citywide||+23% (777)||+3% (1,793)||+15% (339)||+7% (1,348)||+9% (4,461)|
Frishberg said a community meeting with police is scheduled for Tuesday.
Overall, the city has seen a 9 percent increase in violent crimes this year, and gun crimes in particular are on the rise, according to the latest Metropolitan Police Department data. The increases are highest across the Anacostia River in Wards 7 and 8, D.C. neighborhoods that have long struggled with poverty and crime. In the districts where similarly high crime levels have given way to neighborhood revitalization, certain areas -- like Eastern Market, where Maslin was found -- are also experiencing spikes in violent crime.
Maslin lives just off Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill. He attended a Nationals game on Friday night, then went to the Tune Inn tavern on Capitol Hill. He was found unconscious at 8:30 a.m. seven blocks from his home. Two hours later, his wife, who has said in interviews that she assumed her husband slept over at a friend's house, filed a missing-persons report. The neighborhood was riddled with drugs and crime two decades ago. Today, the area is largely gentrified, and home values range from $800,000 to more than $1 million.
But it sits on the edge.
When asked about the increase in violent crime in Capitol Hill, Police Chief Cathy Lanier said on Tuesday that police have been working to lower crime there since the beginning of the year and violence had decreased in the last three months.
"We are working tirelessly to address ALL types of robberies throughout the city through comprehensive strategies," Lanier said in an email. "We have several teams of officers conducting a variety of patrol strategies and tactics to prevent robberies and to also arrest offenders."
Just blocks away to the east, property values hover around $450,000, and violent crime is occurring at an even higher rate -- 75 incidents so far this year -- than in the police service area that encompasses Lincoln Park.
It's a story that repeats all over the District. In the H Street Corridor, where a revitalized night life scene is booming and property values are climbing, violent crime has decreased by 10 percent this year from 2011 -- thanks to increased police presence. But northeast of H
Street in the Trinidad neighborhood, where townhomes can be found for less than $300,000, violent crime in that police service area has increased by 59 percent, with 172 incidents to date.
The Capitol Riverfront -- which includes Nationals Park -- has seen violent crime spike to 60 incidents so far this year compared with 46 last year. Even Columbia Heights, long considered a prime example of D.C.'s revitalization, saw violent crime rise 5 percent and robberies without guns spike 24 percent -- from 76 to 94 incidents.
"There's some things about our neighborhood that make it a good target," Frishberg said of Capitol Hill, "but I don't think its unique in that respect."