Two Blair seniors were robbed and carjacked at gunpoint on Jan 21 in the parking lot of the Takoma Park Metro Station. The incident is part of a recent increase in armed robberies and car thefts at area Metro stations, which has left police searching for solutions to the problem.
Seniors Laine Henry and Tarina Szemzo were held up at gunpoint while getting out of Henry's 1998 Dodge Neon at around 8:00 p.m. Both of the girls were robbed of their purses, and Henry's car was stolen.
Although Henry parked her car in a lit area, she said that the lack of cameras and security officials still left her at risk. "I purposely parked around other cars like I always do, but there were no cameras or anything, so I was completely vulnerable," she said.
Metro Transit Police said that since Sept 11, they have moved most of their security units inside stations to deal with crowd control and security issues within the Metro system, possibly contributing to the recent crime increase.
Szemzo recalled noticing six young men approach her as she exited Henry's parked car. "They came up to me, and one had a gun, but he wasn't pointing it right at me. He was holding it kind of loosely," she said.
One of the men then demanded Szemzo hand over her purse and pointed the gun directly at her. "I almost thought they were joking at first," said Szemzo. "I thought that if I just got back into the car he would just go away, but after he took my purse he went over to the other side of the car before we could even process what was going on."
Henry said that before she realized what Szemzo was doing, she could see a young man brandishing a gun in her window. "Of course I gave him my purse and cell phone, but for some reason when he asked for my car keys my first instinct was to say ‘no.' He put the gun up to my face and told me that he wasn't joking around, and I better hand over my keys. So I did it," she said.
Before the six suspects left in Henry's car, one warned the girls not to run to the police station. "One guy yelled at us to run into the neighborhood and not toward the police station. He told us he was trying to save our lives, but I was so scared watching these guys leave with my car that I didn't know how to respond," she said.
Henry's car was found in Northeast D.C. on Jan 24. Two suspects have been apprehended, both of whom are minors.
Due to the increase in parking lot crimes, preventing car theft is one of Metro's top priorities for 2002. "We have the parking lot call boxes that we encourage people to use if they see anything suspicious, and we are increasing security," said Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstien.
Farbstien recommended that to avoid becoming a victim of car theft, people should provide layers of protection for their cars. "Make sure the car doors are always locked, and car alarms and wheel locks will deter people from breaking in. Also, don't leave anything visible—not even pocket change, because if burglars see something, they will think there is more," she said.
Although Henry's car has been found, she said that she does not want it back. She is now afraid to drive alone after dark. "I feel angry because he took something from me that I can't get back. I have never felt so out of control in my entire life, and I don't ever want to get in that car again," she said.
The Takoma Park Metro Station is located 2.4 miles from Blair.
Julia Druhan. Julia Druhan is enjoying her second year on newspaper as Chips' Health editor. She has been looking forward to the Silver Chips experience since her sister, a recent Blair graduate, was on staff for two years. Julia won second place in the Montgomery Blair Science ... More »