CQ Reporter Robbed on Way to Work

CQ Weekly‘s Shawn Zeller was robbed earlier this week while riding a bike to work on the Metropolitan Branch trail. “He’s okay. Be careful out there,” a note on an internal editorial list read.

The incident came a night after Fox 5 ran a story about the trail becoming more crime ridden. A WaPo story with bare bones details ran on Zeller’s incident Wednesday but did not mention the reporter’s name.

At 9:20 Monday morning he was riding a Bikeshare bike to work on the trail at 8th St. and Edgewood when he encountered a thin, medium dark complected African American man with glasses and short hair. The man was wearing a white T-shirt and blue shorts that fell below the knees. The trail was narrow. Zeller had noticed the man meandering along in front of him but forged on. “He looked fishy,” the reporter recalled. As he got close, it became clear he was not going to get out of his way.

Zeller’s instincts were right. The man pointed a semi-automatic pistol, told him to drop the bike, put his bag on the ground and empty his pockets. “I didn’t say anything,” the scribe recalled. “I complied with everything he asked.” The man instructed him to get back on his bike and ride in the direction he had originally intended.

He rode to a strip mall and phoned the police. He hopped back on the bike and returned it. The whole episode from bike rental to robbery to phoning the police last 16 minutes.

What Zeller lost in the robbery: A cell phone, a BlackBerry, a Metro card, an iPod shuffle, approximately $35 in cash and gym shoes. His bag was later found and in it was his lunch — a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and almonds — gym clothes, his congressional ID, checkbook and business cards. Also stolen was an 8-9-year-old pair of sunglasses with a heavy prescription. “I would not define them as nice,” the reporter said.

For the time being, Zeller has switched up his route to work. He now travels on 4th Street NE on the roadway and not through a park trail. In addition to finding out that the man used his Metro card twice the day of the robbery, he has since learned he was ninth in a recent spate of crimes along the trail.