As Helen Obregon (SFS ’06) and two close friends began walking through Georgetown’s darkened streets late Saturday night, they were only thinking of another friend’s warm Prospect Street house that was to be their escape from the cold.
Only minutes later, at 10:30 p.m., the three were mugged, Obregon was shot and had collapsed onto the black street. A bullet had torn through her left arm and two muggers had made a quick escape. Nicklas Holgersson (MSB ’06) frantically called police for help as Maria del Mar Zavala (SFS ’06) remained with Obregon.
The three friends had spent the evening enjoying each others’ company, eating dinner and chatting in Obregon’s P Street apartment, Holgersson said.
It came time to head out, to meet friends just a few blocks away on Prospect Street.
They left the apartment and took a few steps, getting to the 1400 block of 33rd Street. It was then that the students saw the men – two of them, walking quickly, pressing black and white scarves over their faces, then pulling guns.
“When they got up to us they said something like `give us your shit,'” Holgerson said.
The three friends gave their attackers purses, cell phones and money.
The men started to back away, still aiming their guns warily. A shot rang out.
Obregon fell to the ground clutching a left arm she could no longer feel. She had been shot. The two men sprinted north on 33rd street.
“I don’t even know what was going through my mind, I was shocked,” Obregon said yesterday. “I don’t know, I was so scared.”
As Zavala comforted Obregon, Holgersson ran to the intersection of 33 and O Streets to figure out exactly where he was. He whipped out his cell phone and called 911.
Within minutes police and paramedics arrived, taking Obregon and Zavala to George Washington University Hospital’s emergency room. Holgersson stayed behind to talk to police and Zavalla went with her injured friend, waiting until Obregon was released after a few hours. Doctors had decided that intensive treatment for her arm could wait.
Obregon’s brother and sister – both college students studying in the United States – flew to Washington, D.C. on Sunday and her mother flew from Bogota, Colombia to the District onday morning. They took Obregon to a private doctor at Georgetown University Hospital.
“One of my bones was shattered by the bullet and now I’m deciding whether to have surgery or wear a cast for a long time,” Obregon said.
As police search for the suspects, they will be ramping up a “high visibility campaign,” said Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Felcia Lucas. But, she warned, police are often tied up dealing with rowdy students.
“If our people weren’t taken away dealing with large parties and drinking all the time, we could have high-visibility patrols and try to deter some of serious problems that go on,” she said.
A Department of Public Safety e-mail described the suspects as Hispanic males between 5 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 9 inches in height. One was muscular with facial hair and wearing a black jacket, baseball cap and dark baggy jeans. The other had a dark complexion and was wearing a black baseball cap and jacket and blue jeans, the e-mail said.
Early Saturday morning at 2 a.m. 20 hours before the shooting someone mugged a different student, this time on the 3300 block of Prospect Street, according to DPS Director Darryl Harrison.
The suspect grabbed the student, a female, around her neck before taking money out of her purse, Harrison said. Investigators do not believe the shooting is related to the second mugging, he said.
University officials have requested a meeting with the commander of MPD’s Second District, the police district that includes Georgetown, according to Vice President for University Safety David orrell.
Morrell said he was “deeply troubled and concerned” by the muggings.
“We want to make students aware and ask them to ride the SafeRides shuttle,” he said. “And we want to try and partner more with the community and MPD to get more attention where it needs to be.”
As Obregon continued to recover from her physical wounds yesterday, Zavala and Holgersson nursed their own psychological injuries.
“It all happened so quickly. I didn’t think they were going to shoot and then I saw my friend on the ground,” Zavala said. “I want to say that DPS and the GW Hospital really helped us, they have done a really good job, but it will just take a while for me to feel better and get over this.”