- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 16, 2002

D.C. police are investigating a series of attacks across the city Sunday night in which as many as 10 persons were hit with 4-inch darts fired from a passing car.

None of the victims was seriously injured, but four persons were treated at hospitals to remove the darts, Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Joe Gentile said.

The darts appear to have been fired from a blowgun, but police last night weren't ruling out the possibility they were fired from a nail gun. The attacks took place from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sgt. Gentile said.

By yesterday morning, eight persons had filed police reports indicating they had been hit by darts. Yesterday afternoon, a ninth person filed a report, and police had taken calls from others into last night saying they had been hit as well.

The first eight reports ranged in location from the 100 block of New York Avenue NW to as far away as Georgetown. All the victims were men, and all but one were pedestrians, Sgt. Gentile said. One man was hit in the upper left arm as he was driving on New York Avenue NW.

The final three attacks all occurred around 11 p.m. in the 600 and 700 blocks of New York Avenue NW, about five blocks away from, and 90 minutes after, one of the first incidents.

Victims were hit in the arms, chests, backs, legs and in one case, the buttocks. Sgt. Gentile said the darts easily could have caused the motorist to lose control of his vehicle or punctured an artery or an organ and caused more serious injury.

The dart, about the length of a person's index finger, resembled a small needle with a black cap on one end. Police said there was no evidence the darts had been tainted with chemicals or toxins.

Sgt. Gentile said he'd never seen anything like the dart attacks.

"I've heard of cases of people being hit by a pellet gun, but never anyone being hit by a dart from a blowgun," he said.

Several of the victims reported seeing a white four-door Cadillac with tinted windows in the area shortly after they were hit. Sgt. Gentile said victims gave varying reports on the number of people in the car and on their descriptions. He said police currently have "no description that's adequate to use."

A team of detectives from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd police districts worked yesterday at analyzing the pattern of the attacks and interviewing victims and witnesses.

"The department takes this incident very seriously," Sgt. Gentile said. "It is classified as a felony, and it endangers lives."

Sgt. Gentile said those involved face charges of assault with a dangerous weapon. He said anyone with information about the attacks should call the department's Special Operations Command Center at 202/727-9099.

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