NEWS- Eight is enough: Youths strike downtown again

Belmont Bridge was the scene of a July 6 assault. Police are looking into at least eight similar random attacks by marauding teens.

Teen males wearing white t-shirts assaulted several pedestrians July 6, upping the number of strangers randomly struck near the Downtown Mall to at least eight. As citizens become increasingly nervous about walking downtown, police have formed a task force to determine whether a number of similar attacks over the past few months are related.

"The only factual similarity is black youths wearing white t-shirts," says Charlottesville Police Captain Bryant Bibb, who stresses that police have no evidence indicating the assaults are gang related.

A man walking a few steps behind his wife on Belmont Bridge around 10:15pm July 6 was sucker-punched in the face by one of a group of 10 to 12 passing African-American teenagers, police say. 

Shortly after that, at 10:50pm, another white male was beaten at 900 East Market Street near LexisNexis. The victim didn't report the attack: police heard about it from a witness, who saw a man being assaulted by a group of young black males. The witness yelled at the victim to get in his car, and the assailants started punching the car, leaving dents.

"Due to the time and location, we think they're related," says Bibb.

Later that evening– at 11:29pm– someone in a group of white t-shirt-wearing juvenile pedestrians threw a rock through the windshield of a car on Jefferson Park Avenue. Officers were able to detain some of the suspects, but the driver was unable to identify the rock thrower.

"We have some suspects," says Bibb. "We know who those kids are." But he can't say the JPA vandalism was connected to the earlier assaults. "I can't say they're not related. I can't say they are related.

"We can't connect events by white t-shirts," he cautions, because the garb is so common. 

And at times controversial. Earlier this year, Jaberwoke restaurant on the Corner ignited a firestorm when it banned white tees and baggy pants.

Police have called in school resource officers, hoping their familiarity with city juveniles will help develop leads. They've also stepped up security in the areas of previous attacks, such as Garrett Street. 

"Since this weekend, we'll probably be focusing more on the Belmont Bridge area," says Bibb, even though he acknowledges the randomness of the attacks makes focusing on one area problematic.

Police say that a 2am July 7 assault on a woman at the Elks Lodge on 2nd Street NW is not related to the teen attacks, but they have spotted some patterns in some other assaults:

• June 11 around 9:45pm in the 900 block of 9th Street SW. A black male walking alone passed four to six black male teenagers. He was attacked from behind and suffered injuries to the face, including a front tooth knocked out and another loosened. "We've identified two possible suspects in that case," says Sergeant Mark Brake.

• June 2 at 12:43am on Garrett Street. A husband and wife walking to their car were approached by eight young black males in white t-shirts. One struck the woman in the face with what police believe was a piece of asphalt. The gang fled toward Friendship Court, and police located a bloodied piece of asphalt nearby. The husband was unharmed.

• May 23 at 11:06pm in the Crescent Hall parking lot at 500 South 1st Street. A man was unloading a bike when a white pickup pulled up carrying three black males who roughed the man up and threw him to the ground. The victim's forehead was split, and he had a large red mark on his right cheek.

• May 23 at 11:50pm on Garrett Street. A young white male was approached by three black males, one of whom was walking on the north side of the street by himself and who asked the victim for a cigarette. When he complied, the other two males crossed the street. He heard laughing and then was struck at least 10 times with clubs. The man broke away and called police, but he suffered multiple wounds to his head, face, and back.

• April 28 at 2:32am in the 200 block of Water Street. After being jumped by three males– two black and one white– the victim was punched in the face multiple times. (This case is different from the others in that the trouble may have begun in Club 216, one of the assailants is white, not all were wearing white t-shirts, and police say the victim may have known the assailants.)

• March 30 at 11:16pm in the 200 block of West Main Street. Although not on the list of cases provided by police, the Hook reported an early April assault on Jamie Dyer, a member of the musical group Hogwaller Ramblers, who was walking from Water Street in front of the Ice Park when he noticed a group of five or six teens. Three boys knocked him to the ground and punched and kicked him before fleeing toward Water Street. Dyer called the attack a "thrash and dash," and the only description he could give to police was young black men wearing white t-shirts and baggy jeans.

"It's unusual we have a random attack and the victim is not robbed," says Sergeant Brake. "Historically, the motive is robbing that person."

The randomness of the attacks around the Downtown Mall has made habitués nervous.

A young woman who works on the Mall, lives on West Main Street, and regularly walks near where attacks have happened, worries if it's safe to walk to her boyfriend's house two blocks away at 11pm.

"It makes me paranoid if it's getting to be dusk, and that a couple was attacked and a woman put in the hospital," she says, requesting anonymity. "I'm not even safe if I'm with my boyfriend. This sucks when I could be with a group of friends and still worry."

And the fear is everywhere. "You see kids who fit the description everyday," she says.

She says her friends who live downtown are considering self-defense courses. "One thing I take into account every time I leave my house is I make sure I'm wearing shoes I can run in," says the 20-something. 

City officials urge people to exercise caution, but they note that, statistically, Charlottesville has not seen a surge in violent crimes, and that numbers of assaults are actually down. 

"We do feel the Downtown Mall is safe," says city spokesman Ric Barrick. "There's no reason to fear crime is on the increase."

Barrick, too, cautions against the use of the word "gang" and connecting organized criminal gangs like Crips and Bloods with the gangs of local teens, whom he calls "thugs who unfortunately feel like they don't have anything better to do."

The recent spate of violence has reminded residents of a series of stranger attacks in early 2002, mostly against white and Asian UVA students, in which nine Charlottesville High students, eight of whom were black, were charged and convicted. In those cases, several of the attacking students were football players, one of the ringleaders was a female, and none were described as wearing white t-shirts.

Police think a lot of people know about the recent attacks, and they hope parents, family, and friends of those involved will come forward.

 "These are kids," says Captain Bibb. "Kids generally talk a lot, and you get a bunch of 13-, 14-, 15-year-olds, they're probably talking about it." 



My advice, carry a gun at all times.

Good advice, Cvillian.

But be prepared to be royally harassed by any rookie Rambo police officer who sees it.

The only people who need to see it are the ones on the wrong end.

When I draw my gun, I come out blazing. And I don't miss, I'm down on Old Lynchburg road at the range more hours than I'm in church.

I commend Tim Longo for his attention to this matter, I'm confident he will get it under control. We are very blessed to have Longo here, he is a cop's cop who brings law and order to this over liberalized utopian confused-ville.

But just in case Longo can't solve this its good to know there are a few of us around carrying, and keeping the perps guessing if tonight's their night. It's just a matter of time, they are gonna get blasted, and then there will be parents crying on TV about it....JaQuan was so young, he's my baby and he's gone...he was just going along with was those other boys...they were a bad influence.....bwahhhhhhh!

quote >> "We are very blessed to have Longo here, he is a cop's cop who brings law and order to this over liberalized utopian confused-ville."

Your reply sounded pretty good at the beginning. Then I saw the above quote and realized you are one confused or misled individual. HAHAHA!!

Furthermore, if you shoot and kill some juvenile for simple assault on a citizen, you will find yourself in jail, most likely with NO bond. And I suspect you will find Longo in the Grand Jury room seeking the murder indictment against you. This isn't the Wild West. And I supect you could have your CCW revoked just for the statements you have made above. Be careful what you say.

time to tighten up the cerfew, and allow noone under the age of 18 to be downtown without an adult holding their hands. if teenagers are going to act like children, then they need to be treated as such. and i am passing out mace to all my friends

So why aren't these considered "hate crimes" ?

That law only applies to minority victims. Whites have no protection.

Fortunately, there are laws that don't apply to whites. Driving while Black, for example, is a class 1 misdemeanor in the Commonwealth. Driving while Hispanic is a class 6 Felony.

The police are afraid to crack down on these pieces of crap. They KNOW who they are. They KNOW where they live. They busted their parents 20 years ago.

How bad does it have to get before they will act?
does someone have to die?

This is how it will play out: some well connected tourist will get his wife hurt. He will call in chits and the FBI will come down here and crawl up the c-ville police chiefs ASS and MAKE him take the problem seriously. The charlottesville police will look like idiots. All because the chief is afraid to call a spade a spade.

you can take the animal out of the jungle but you can't take the jungle out of the animal.

Despite some valid concerns being raised in this article about safety on the downtown mall, the messages posted on this board, not all but a troubling percentage, have devolved into thinly veiled racist and bigoted statements.

Safety needs to be a primary concern of course, but any parent would claim that their kids are spending time with bad influences if caught doing these troubling acts, no matter their race.

And to gramps, I suspect, no I HOPE that your comments were posted just for shock value. If the police knew who these kids were they would have been arrested already, furthermore how do you know the legal status of these kids’ parents? Or do you just assume everybody from certain socio-economic classes come replete with previous convictions.

Finally your comment on “animals” and “jungles” doesn’t even deserve a response except to say we all evolved from common ancestors so unless you are speaking from a Darwinist, evolutionary model; if you are unable to realize on your own your display’s utter inappropriateness and callous disregard for moral sensibilities that we as a country have worked so hard to progress, then I truly feel sorry for you.

There was nothing thin veiled about my post.

Why does it make you a bigot if you want to lock up criminals? I don't care what color they are, if they do the crime then do the time.

Am I a bigot because I was not SURPRIZED by their race?

If I am then almost every person in C-ville is a bigot INCLUDING most black people.

I have a lot of cops who are my friends and they tell me they are 99% sure who these assholes are but the word from the top is to not create any incidents that could get Al Sharpton down here.

So I getting stabbed is the price you have to pay for political correctness.

You're right gramps, there was nothing thinly veiled about your remarks, it was obvious. I was not referring to you when I said that and that's why I addressed your post separately.

There is nothing "politically correct" about not making racist statements, such as "you can take the animal out of the jungle but you can't take the jungle out of the animal" that is just correct, proper, right, whatever you want to call it plain and simple.

The article mentions that there are "two possible suspects" in the June 11 incident and I am sure the police are handling that as they would in approaching any other possible suspects for crimes.

And if it were truly only crime and criminals you were worried about you would not have included those telling remarks including your calculated reference to calling "a spade a spade."

As far as stabbings, the only stabbing, actually stabbing-murder, I remember of late occurring in c-ville happened under much different circumstances on the corner.

And I for one, am not at all surprised that even with an included spell check in this comment box, you still managed to misspell surprise.

I am not concerned ONLY with crime. I am concerned with the FACT that the police who are supposed to protect us have their hands tied because the powers that be are overly concerned with being accused of racism.

A criminal is a criminal is a criminal.

Endear a police officer on his day off and you will hear the truth. I have and I do. Even officers who are not white see the double standard.

If there were a group of white tee shirted kids abusing black families on the belmont bridge they would roust the usual suspects and solve the crime in a week.

They would not try and downplay the situation. they would ask the public for help and pledge to bring the culprits to justice.

And I was not surprised thst someone would scrutinize my spelling in this anal liberal burg.

The truth hurts - the unacceptable threats to our safety & quality of life are not new developments. My choice is to stay away from downtown until I am satisfied that my family's safety is respected. I demand more media coverage so we know what's really going on. I assume the cops don't want a war on their hands. The R word is very handy for shutting someone down, but it doesn’t change the facts.

I, for one, am fed up and value my family's safety too much to risk returning downtown until I have confidence that the underclass is finally under control.

I can tell you from personal experience over the 12 years I have lived here that they have not done enough to make me feel safe. I still remember the Nobel candidate killed on W. Main by a rock to the head.

2 yrs ago, my innocent wife-holding our 3 yr old's hand-was assaulted on the mall by a female beast. I found an officer & a witness stepped forward, but the cop said: "It's a street not a park", & let her go.

On the subject of the homeless hordes setting up shop in town (living under plastic sheeting behind Kmart and on the Rivanna Trail off Rte 20), I implore people not to encourage them with handouts – volunteer at PACHEM, instead, if you want to be sure they have a full belly. Get them back on their medication and out of the shadows. Read the Hook's June 2003 interview with the train bums to realize the apparent risks these miscreants represent – it should alarm you. And to the police – why aren’t you enforcing code on this issue? I have seen it with my own eyes: Sec. 28-31. Panhandling. (5) From or to any person seated within an outdoor cafe area, during the hours of operation of such outdoor cafe.

As for the local gangs, whether it's a lack of parenting or for whatever reason their resentment causes them to hate us and lash out at innocent people, it's been going on FOR YEARS NOW (read the recent letter in the C'Ville by a witness to an unpunished crime outside Starr Hill a couple of years ago (he claims the police would not even take the report!)

While I was visiting in NYC recently, I read local newspaper accounts of bad boys being pulled over by cops who found guns, drugs and…you guessed it…videotapes of beatings they had given innocent victims, and each other! So, this is some sort of nationwide phenomenon, I guess. Interestingly, it made the news that 10 people were shot in Brooklyn one day that week, only because there are typically only 5 people shot in Brooklyn each day…hmmm.

I think there’s not nearly enough daylight, and would encourage the media to publish a comprehensive police blotter so we can know what’s actually going on – still, that only covers what is getting reported!

I will be watching the news for the results of the investigation into the house fires in Belmont. btw, Who dropped a deuce in the pool at Washington Park, forcing it to close on one of the hottest days of the year? And to the troublemakers in our midsts: You think you're "urban" HA! you are cowards. Try working for a living and living within your means and taking care of your family - that takes genuine courage, you dirtbags!

I am ashamed for Charlottesville.