Editor’s note: The following story looks at the experience of Borderstan resident Michael Kremin who was beaten and robbed shortly after midnight on June 21 near his home on Corcoran Street NW. Kremin left a comment about his mugging on an unrelated Borderstan crime posting and we contacted him about the details. After meeting Kremin and obtaining a copy of the police report (details at end of story), Chloe Thompson interviewed Kremin and wrote the following story. Thompson recently graduated with a B.A. in journalism from the University of Rhode Island. She moved to the Washington metro area and is contributing to Borderstan while pursuing an editorial job.
By Chloe Thompson
Almost three months after what he refers to as “the incident,” Corcoran Street resident Michael Kremin still refuses to leave his home alone after 9:30 p.m.
The left side of his jaw–broken by muggers during the June 21 robbery–still has no feeling. In addition, Kremin needs regular check ups and is self-conscious about eating. The right cheekbone that was also shattered that night, leaving him bleeding against a nearby parked car, shows little signs of bruising. Still, Kremin reached gingerly to touch it as he told his story.
Kremin’s injuries are the rest of the story of MPD crime report number 09085657. The story begins on Saturday night, June 20, when Kremin and his partner went to a friend’s house on Wallach Place NW, where Kremin met the other editors of their blog, “Who Murdered Robert Wone?”
Wrapping up a bit after midnight on Sunday morning, Kremin made the four-block trip home to Corcoran Street with his partner, who rode his bicycle. There were also accompanied by a friend on foot. It was a route Kremin had walked “millions of times” since moving to Washington about 20 years ago.
At 13th Street, Kremin’s friend said goodbye and turned to walk back to his home. Kremin’s partner turned down an alley to park and secure his bike while Kremin continued walking toward home. Looking down the street, he “saw no one.” Halfway down the block, Kremin said that four men jumped him and demanded his wallet and cell phone. One of the men pointed toward a semi-automatic weapon hidden in his clothing.
“These guys just physically grabbed me,” Kremin recalls. “I said, ‘the wallet’s in there,’ ” pointing to a shopping bag filled with DVDs and a cake pan, where he had thrown his wallet before leaving the dinner party on Wallach Place. Next, the assailants grabbed Kremin’s iPhone and threw him up against a nearby parked car. One of the men pistol-whipped the right side of his face, while punching the other.
In a matter of minutes, the incident was over. The men ran off, leaving Kremin battered and bruised for his partner to find moments later. Within five minutes, Kremin’s partner had called 911 and the Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) arrived, with police officers arriving shortly afterward.
While Kremin’s injuries were being checked and he was questioned by police, Kremin said he heard an alert come through the police radio for an armed robbery and assault a few blocks away.
“There were 15 police there,” Kremin said. “They could have found them.” Kremin believes the same men who attacked him were the same ones reported on the radio a few minutes later. However, MPD Third District police officers said they believe it was an unrelated incident.
Kremin was taken to the George Washington University Hospital. But, due to the number of trauma cases filling the emergency room, he did not undergo surgery until the next day at 5:30 p.m. His right upper and lower mandibles were broken, in addition to his right cheekbone. So, surgeons inserted steel plates under his chin and wired his jaw shut for two-and-a-half weeks. As a result, Kremin could only ingest liquefied food–even strained chicken soup was a problem.
The doctors also applied a graft of powdered cadaver bone to fix his broken cheekbone and 10 days later the swelling finally went down. Touching his cheekbone, Kremin says that it’s “still tender.”
The mugging has made Kremin more cautious of his surrounding. He stops short of calling himself paranoid, but says, “Initially I didn’t feel comfortable walking anywhere, day or night. I was very apprehensive.”
The former self-described “bleeding-heart liberal” says his attitude about crime and punishment has changed as a result of his mugging. “These four young men left their house that night with the intent to inflict pain and to steal,” Kremin said. “This was outright malicious behavior.”
Kremin, who has written letters to both the MPD police chief and Mayor Adrian Fenty, said he feels that there is a serious lack of police presence in his residential area. After the incident, four police officers visited Kremin’s home and told him that two officers were patrolling his block from 2 to 8 p.m.
Shaking his head, Kremin said, “I have never seen them patrolling my block… where are the foot patrols, where are the bike patrols?” Kremin says he has polled his neighbors, and knows of about 10 to 15 break-ins as well as another assault on his block about four months ago.
Officers in the MPD Third District, who declined to be named, said that Kremin not noticing the patrols is a “good thing.”
“We do not ride around all nights with our lights on,” the officer said. “We have binoculars, we sit on roofs. We watch people. I want to watch these people, not scare them off. That’s what [we] do.”
However, for Kremin, the incident is far from over. “The reality is that this will permanently change the way I look at others on the street,” Kremin said.
He is still awaiting answers on who attacked him that night. A couple of weeks ago, the detective handling Kremin’s case showed him a page of photos of possible suspects, to see if he could identify anyone who attacked him in June.
“Unfortunately, none of them looked familiar,” Kremin said.
Since the assault, Kremin has only walked out of his house alone twice after dark. After 9:30 p.m., he drives or has friends walk him home, preferably with large dog for companionship.
“I am on high alert,” he said.
The report from MPD Third District
RPT DATE: Jun 21, 2009
BLOCK: 1300 B/O CORCORAN ST NW
START DT: 06/21/2009
START TM: 00:25:00