Police arrested a temporary GW employee Thursday for allegedly stabbing another man after they worked on renovations to the GW Bookstore. Hospital officials cannot verify the condition of the victim, who suffered multiple stab wounds, until he signs a release form.
According to police and University reports, the two construction workers started an argument over a coat at about 5:30 a.m. outside the Marvin Center at 21st and H streets. Clifford Williams stabbed his co-worker, who made it to the basement of the Marvin Center and sought help from a University Police officer. Police would not release the name of the victim because he is considered a key witness to the investigation.
Metropolitan Police arrested Williams at about 3 p.m. after he fled the scene in a van. He was arrested at the 6th District MPD station at 100 42nd St. N.E., said Sgt. Michael Farish, who headed the daylong search.
“He fled the scene but went to a police station for another reason,” Farish said. “We’re not exactly sure what he was trying to do.”
Williams has a prior arrest record “with various mostly non-violent crimes in his past,” Farish said.
The two men were Labor Ready employees hired to hang fixtures throughout the night in the bookstore. Labor Ready is a temporary job placement company for “low skill/no skill laborers,” company spokeswoman Stacy Burke said.
Follett, the company that runs the GW Bookstore, hired fixtures company Show Best for the renovations, and the sub-contractor hired Labor Ready employees, University officials said.
Follett spokesman Cliff Ewart said the two men worked throughout the night and were finished when the altercation happened.
Burke said the jobs GW hired the men for are not unusual for Labor
Ready employees, and she was unable to verify whether Labor Ready does criminal background checks on its D.C. employees.
Williams was charged with assault with intent to kill, which carries a punishment of two to 15 years in prison, Farish said.
Metropolitan Police closed half a block around the Marvin Center – H Street between 21st and 22nd streets and 21st Street between H and I streets – to traffic until about 11 a.m. Students entered the Marvin Center through the parking garage as police gathered evidence and cleaned the site. J Street remained closed until 11 a.m., students said.
Marvin Center Director Peter Konwerski said he arrived to the site at about 7:30 a.m.
“When I walked up, (police) were tight-lipped. No one would confirm anything,” he said about finding out what had happened hours earlier. “You tend to hear a lot of hearsay.”
“It was roped off, with tons of police officers and TV cameras,” said
sophomore Ben Faust, who said he was outside the Marvin Center at 7:30 a.m. “It was scary.”
Media Director Gretchen King described the altercation as “an isolated incident” involving two men who are not “members of the GW community.”
“We have certainly been given no information from the police that there is any kind of danger to the GW community,” King said at the time.
Dolores Stafford, director of the University Police Department, said the victim stumbled into the Marvin Center basement, where a UPD officer called an ambulance at 5:47 a.m. She said the man went in and out of consciousness awaiting the ambulance, which arrived 15 minutes later.
The man left pools of blood in the basement, which were quickly cleaned after forensic evidence was taken.
Robert Chernak, vice president for Student and Academic Support Services, said he arrived at GW after police cleared the scene but heard there was a lot of blood on the ground.
“I’ve got to believe there’s got to be more than just arguing over a jacket (involved),” he said.
Managing Director for Business Services Michael Peller said that to his knowledge GW has not had problems in the past with Follet construction.
He said the University monitors all levels of work and holds contractors to certain standards in licensing and other areas. Peller was unable to elaborate on standards policies.
Peller added that the University will review the incident before deciding on any possible policy changes regarding construction work.
-Tricia Parker, Josh Riezman, Trevor Martin and Jason Steinhardt contributed to this report.