- The Washington Times - Friday, August 11, 2006

Five D.C. males, including two juveniles, have been arrested and charged in a series of armed robberies and sexual assaults this summer on the Mall, part of a wave of violence that led to the declaration of a crime emergency in the city, law-enforcement officials said yesterday.

On July 28, U.S. Park Police arrested Zachary Bright, 19; Ryan Newman Jr., 17; and Trayvon Thomas, 18.

Michael Bright, 16, was arrested Aug. 4, and Marcus Brown, 22, was arrested on Monday.

Police said the men participated in five attacks on the Mall from late May to mid-July, in which 12 persons — including 10 tourists — were robbed. Two of the victims reportedly were sexually assaulted.

“Virtually overnight, this place of public pride became a place of public danger,” said Kenneth L. Wainstein, the U.S. attorney for the District. “We in law enforcement couldn’t abide these violations on our National Mall, and we committed ourselves to stopping them.”

Three attacks were reported in May, and two more the night of July 11, hours after Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey declared the crime emergency in response to a series of assaults and homicides.

Authorities think all of the suspects who took part in the Mall robberies have been apprehended.

Three other men — Tarnell Ward, 21; Joshua Thomas, 24; and Joseph Williams, 19 — also have been arrested and charged with using some of the credit cards stolen during the robberies.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who pushed for an increased police presence and better lighting along the Mall after the attacks, lauded the arrests.

“By apprehending the suspects, the Park Police have taken a group of very violent suspects off our streets,” said Mrs. Norton, a Democrat and the District’s nonvoting congressional representative.

Chief Dwight E. Pettiford of the Park Police said the arrests are the result, in part, of the increased patrols in the area, which have been conducted with the U.S. Capitol Police.

“If you commit a crime on the Mall, we will hunt you down,” he said. “The Mall is safe.”

Police tracked down the suspects with records from the credit cards and a cell phone stolen in the robberies.

Ryan Newman and Zachary Bright are charged with the July 11 robbery of the two female victims near the Washington Monument. One of the victims was sexually assaulted.

Later that night, a family of four from Missouri — including a 9-year-old and a 15-year-old — was also robbed at gunpoint near the monument.

Mr. Brown is charged with one of two May 25 robberies on the Mall, in which two couples were robbed minutes apart.

Michael Bright is charged in connection with the May 27 robbery on the Mall in which a 17-year-old female was raped at gunpoint.

Thomas, who was charged with first-degree sexual abuse in connection with the May 27 robbery, pleaded guilty. He also pleaded guilty to robbery, weapons and assault charges and faces up to 120 years in prison.

Thomas’ initial arrest on July 28 was for an unrelated assault in June. He pleaded guilty Monday in D.C. Superior Court in connection with the assault and to his role in all three robberies in May on the Mall.

The two juveniles will be charged as adults, authorities said.

Channing Phillips, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said the investigation of the crimes continues and that the suspects could face additional charges.

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