GW volunteers robbed in Northeast

Three men stopped and robbed 11 students as they returned from a Northeast elementary school Tuesday evening. Witnesses said one of the men may have had a gun.

Four GW students were robbed when the men stopped their group of 11 volunteers, including one Howard University student. The men emerged from an alley while the students were walking on Anacostia Avenue near the Minnesota Avenue Metro station.

The University is reviewing safety at all of its community service sites across the city after the incident, which involved participants in the Jumpstart tutor program. The students were all tutoring at the Neval Thomas Elementary School with the program, run through the Office of Community Service.

“We are looking at all the programs and assessing them,” said Bob Ludwig, assistant director of media relations. Ludwig said a review of the project sites involves a study of area crime rates, proximity to Metro stations and other factors.

“The Neval Thomas program has been suspended pending a review of the site,” he said.

The students were robbed of cash, wallets, a jacket, a backpack and a gold chain.

“We knew the risks when we went there,” said Sarah Chester, the Jumpstart team leader for Neval Elementary. “I have a greater appreciation for the neighborhood where these children live.”

The Jumpstart program, based in Boston, has been affiliated with GW for the past two years. The students involved belong to Americorps and spend 12 hours per week working with children.

University officials said this is the first time such an incident has occurred involving a community service program.

Students take an orientation course before they agree to participate in the community service projects, which includes a neighborhood walk and a description of the surrounding community. Ludwig said the students are trained to travel in groups for safety.

“We are eager and really want to go back,” said Christine Keeves, a senior who was one of the four robbed. “The police told us it was a one-in-a-million chance that we would get robbed while in a group like this.”

Two GW students were robbed at gunpoint while returning from Club Daedalus in late October.

-Andrew Snow and Michael Barnett contributed to this report.

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