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'We are here just to be a deterrent'| DC Guardian Angels patrolling Metro following shootings

The volunteer group says they are focusing their efforts on Metro's Green Line, which is where they have seen the most issues.

WASHINGTON — The rise in violence on the Metro has prompted a response from D.C. officials and from a volunteer group focused on crime prevention. 

Since their arrival to the nation's capital in 1989, the D.C. Guardian Angels have patrolled Metro on and off, but the recent shootings on the system has them focusing their efforts again on buses, trains, and stations.

"We are hoping that if we are in the train, and some young people decide they want to get in a fight, they see the guardian angels and cool out," said the volunteer group's Chief and Chapter Leader John Ayala. WUSA9 accompanied Ayala and two other Guardian Angels as they patrolled the Anacostia Metro Station on Saturday. 

Ayala says his team is trained and prepared to step in if a fight breaks out on or off the vehicles. "If it gets a little rougher than that, then of course we are going to notify Metro Transit because our job is just to be an extra pair of eyes and ears for them because they can't be everywhere," said Ayala.

In recent months the Metro Transit Police (MTPD) has increased patrols during the busiest times by 30%, according to the agency. 

One week, after a Metro worker was killed trying to disarm a gunman at the Potomac Avenue Metro Station, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers would be patrolling alongside their MTPD counterparts at five stations with the most crime and complaints. These stations included:

  • Metro Center
  • Gallery Place
  • Georgia Ave-Petworth
  • Congress Heights
  • Union Station

Metro mechanic 64-year-old Robert Cunningham was killed in the shooting, two others were shot and a railcar of riders were terrorized during the short string of violence. Prosecutors said 31-year-old Isiah Trotman went on a rampage the morning of February 1, which reportedly began on a Metrobus before moving into the Potomac Avenue Metro Station.

"People are complaining that they don't see enough transit police and they don't feel safe. Now they are out here. I see them," said Ayala as he pointed out two MTPD officers on the platform. He says the Guardian Angels are increasing their activity along Metro's Green Line because that is where they have seen the most issues. "Our goal is to help with that void. Sometimes you may see guardian angels, sometimes you see police," said Ayala.

Sherman Mathers was one of the Guardian Angels accompanying Ayala during the Saturday evening patrol. He says the feedback from the community has been positive because their message is simple, "We are here just to be a deterrent, protect everyone, and make sure the communities are getting better." 

The Guardian Angels want to increase their membership by spring to be prepared for summer, when crime tends to spike. Volunteers must be at least 16 and have to volunteer 16 hours a month. 

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact the Guardian Angels by calling (202) 359-0601.


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