- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A Hispanic man was attacked and bloodied in an attempted carjacking yesterday in Columbia Heights a few yards from a group of city officials and more than a dozen D.C. police officers.

The incident illustrates the problems faced by residents in the Northwest neighborhood, which the officials and officers had aimed to address during the kickoff of Community Information Day in Police Service Area (PSA) 302 — the first of many scheduled this summer.

“This area was selected due to the high rate of unemployment among young adults, the need for the Department of Human Services to get involved with a number of families and to address the [many] nuisance properties in the Columbia Heights neighborhood,” police Lt. Charnette Robinson said.

“Columbia Heights is rapidly changing for the better, but there are still a lot of Hispanics who need social services and young black men who need job training, parental training and job placement,” she said.

Yesterday afternoon, a bloodied Orlando Conde staggered across 14th Street to where Metropolitan Police officers and representatives of 30 city agencies had gathered in Triangle Park for a day of community outreach.

Reached at his home last night, Mr. Conde, 45, said one of four black teenagers told him, “Hey, amigo, give me a dollar.”

Mr. Conde, who works as a carpenter, said he gave them a dollar.

A native of El Salvador who has lived in Columbia Heights for 10 years, Mr. Conde said he was headed to his truck when he was attacked.

“They told me they needed all of my money, [and they] followed me to my truck. [They] took my keys and broke [a beer] bottle on my head. [They] dared me to call police,” he said.

Police rushed across the street to the scene of the crime, but his assailants had run away.

Mr. Conde was taken to a hospital, where he received six stitches for his wounds.

Lt. Robinson said Columbia Heights is a “persistent problem area,” with a high rate of alcoholism, problems with prostitution and a dire need for social services.

“The whole purpose of this event is to bring city services out of the offices and into the streets,” said Lt. Robinson, who is tasked with patrolling the community.

“We plan to host these Community Information Day events in various neighborhoods in PSA 302 throughout the summer,” she said. “Hopefully, we can get more youth in Job Corps and job-apprentice programs and bring awareness of all the different city agencies and what they offer residents of the District.”

The Metropolitan Police Department and city agencies had borrowed Triangle Park in the 3400 block of 14th Street NW yesterday to displace drunks and vagrants, truants, drug dealers and others who call the sliver of cobblestone and benches a second home.

As music resonated throughout the park, young people lined up to sign up for employment information, while police urged young men and passers-by to stop by the Job Corps table.

Officers from the 3rd Police District substation hosted the event. They are still searching for the attackers.

Lt. Robinson said the event served multiple purposes.

“To see police in a different light, not as enforcers, rather, engaging in community outreach,” she said.

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