Robbery, carjacking prompts US Senate to warn of ‘increase’ in crime on Capitol Hill

The Senate is warning senators and staff to be careful after a staff member for a Republican senator was robbed at gunpoint on Thursday.

“Amanda Peper, a scheduler in the office of U.S. Senator Katie Britt, was robbed at gunpoint at 8:20 p.m. Thursday,” according to local station WTTG.

“Peper told police she had parked her car and was walking to her building when the suspect pointed a handgun to her face and said, ‘give me your purse and keys.’ The robber then took her belongings and her vehicle and fled,” the station reported Friday.

Being as Britt is a Republican, she responded to her staffer being robbed by decrying the insanity of what happened.

“It is infuriating and completely unacceptable that an American who is on Capitol Hill to serve her country cannot safely walk the streets of Washington, D.C. at 8:30 at night because of the out-of-control crime in this city,” she said in a statement.

“Just look at the police department’s own numbers – this year, robberies are up 68% and motor vehicle thefts are up 102%. Local elected officials in the District of Columbia have the responsibility not just to their citizens, but to the country, to step up and get a hold of the crime crisis ravaging the streets of our nation’s capital,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms released a bulletin Friday warning lawmakers and staff to be careful. The bulletin “suggested tips to reduce the risk of being carjacked and warned of an increase in carjackings around the nation’s capital,” according to Fox News.

The tips included things such as “Always keep doors locked and windows up” and “Don’t stop to assist a stranger with a broken-down car; call the police from a safe location instead.” The bulletin reportedly also reminded lawmakers and staff to “park in well-lit areas near sidewalks,” “conceal valuables,” and “avoid traveling alone, when possible.”

Another section of the bulletin described what lawmakers and staffers should do if and when “confronted by a carjacker with a weapon.”

“Your safety is paramount; surrender your car without argument and swiftly leave the area. Attempt to recall the carjacker’s physical details (gender, race, age, hair/eye color, distinctive features, clothing),” the section reads.

All this comes weeks after Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat, was carjacked by three armed men while he was parking his car in a residential neighborhood.

Cuellar was reportedly confronted by three men outside of his apartment in the Navy Yard area of the nation’s capital at about 9:32 p.m. according to police. He was unharmed from the encounter but his white Honda CHR with Texas plates was stolen and has since been recovered by police.

The incident went down at the intersection of K Street and New Jersey Avenue, SE, just blocks away from the U.S. Capitol, and served as a stark reminder of the dangerous environment that elected representatives are forced to work in when not in their much safer home districts.

“As Congressman Cuellar was parking his car this evening, 3 armed assailants approached the Congressman and stole his vehicle. Luckily, he was not harmed and is working with local law enforcement. Thank you to Metro PD and Capitol Police for their swift action and for recovering the Congressman’s vehicle,” Cuellar’s chief of staff said in a statement.

“Three guys came out of nowhere, and they pointed guns at me,” Cuellar himself likewise told reporters. “I looked at one with a gun and another with a gun out the one behind me. So, they said they wanted my car, and I said, ‘Sure.’”

Prior to Cuellar being robbed, in June a staffer for Rep. Brad Finstad, a Republican, was attacked at gunpoint close to his D.C. home. The attack prompted a stern statement from the Republican congressman.

“Following Wednesday’s Congressional Baseball Game for Charity, one of my staffers was attacked outside of his residence by an armed gunman. Thankfully, he will be able to make a full recovery and the extent of his physical injuries was minor. I thank the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department for their quick response and their attention to this incident,” he said.

“In Washington, D.C. and cities across the country, anti-police, soft-on-crime policies have created lawless societies that endanger the public and empower criminal behavior. It’s time we started treating criminals like criminals and bring back commonsense policies that imprison career criminals, keep the public safe, and allow our police officers to adequately protect our communities and keep violent criminals off the streets,” he added.

Vivek Saxena

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