Metropolitan Police arrested a man last week for carjacking a University 4-RIDE van after he assaulted the driver and crashed the vehicleinto several parked cars in an alleyway off of I Street.
The van driver had stopped to check a flat tire in the alleyway between the Academic Center and West End residence hall at 3:30 a.m. Nov. 20 when a homeless man assaulted him and drove off.
Three students were in the car when the suspect, 47-year-old Andre Tilman, punched the 4-RIDE driver in the face at the front and entered the van on the driver’s side. According to MPD, Tilman has no listed address.
Tilman crashed into several parked cars before fleeing on foot and was later arrested walking near the intersection of 19th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.
Sophomore Ben Levy, a passenger in the van, said the 4-RIDE driver left his keys in the ignition and the engine running when he left to inspect the tire.
Levy said he attempted to remove the keys from the ignition when the suspect entered the vehicle, but the man swung at his hand when he reached for the keys.
“He looked like he was on some sort of drugs. I never found out whether he was, but he was definitely mentally disturbed,” Levy said.
UPD Director Dolores Stafford said the 4-RIDE driver was able to delay the suspect by reaching into the window of the car and attempting to pull the keys out of the ignition.
“I will say that the driver did an excellent job of protecting the students and delaying the driver until students got out of the van,” Stafford said.
But Levy disputes this account, saying all three students fled the car before the driver intervened.
Stafford said the 4-RIDE driver contacted UPD after the car was hijacked, and eight officers responded to the scene. UPD reported the driver sustained minor injuries from the wreck and was taken to the emergency room of the GW Hospital. He was immediately released.
The suspect hit three parked cars and was arrested minutes after he left the vehicle and left the scene, Stafford said. UPD reported all the cars, including the 4-RIDE van, “sustained damage.”
“After he crashed into three cars and a no parking sign, he calmly walked away like nothing had happened,” Levy said.
For Levy, the incident sheds new light on the dangers GW’s city location poses.
“It kind of adds a little paranoia, but I think this was a freak accident, and now I am more prone to taking 4-RIDE at night,” Levy said. “It was really, really, really bad luck.”