Authored by Jack Phillips via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
A Republican House lawmaker on Wednesday said that some lawmakers have been sleeping inside the U.S. Capitol due to fears of crime in the District of Columbia.
Rep. Eric Burlison (R-Mo.) said that he and other unnamed lawmakers have slept in their offices at the Capitol because Washington, D.C., is “very dangerous” at night. He did not elaborate.
“I don’t want to walk back and forth from an apartment in D.C. at night or in the morning—early morning—to get to work,” Mr. Burlison told Todd Starnes on his radio program. “It’s not a safe environment.”
He made reference to Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) having recently been carjacked in the district just blocks from the U.S. Capitol. The Democratic lawmaker was unharmed but his car was stolen by three armed assailants, police said.
“It’s insane to even own a car in D.C. because wherever you park, it is going to cost you a fortune and it’s likely to get broken into and you’re likely to get carjacked,” Mr. Burlison said.
As for Mr. Cuellar, he was back at work in the Capitol on Tuesday morning. Recalling the incident on Sunday night, he said that the assailants appeared from “out of nowhere” and “pointed guns at me.”
“I looked at one with a gun, another with a gun, and I felt one behind me,” Mr. Cuellar said. “They said they wanted my car, and I said, ‘Sure.’ You got to keep calm under those situations, and they took off.”
The congressman was approached by three young black males in black clothing and black masks, according to a statement Mr. Cuellar gave to Capitol officials.
“According to the victim’s statements, the suspects ‘swarmed [the victim’s] vehicle, pointed firearms in his face and demanded the keys to the car.’ Thankfully there were not any injuries,” the U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement. “A witness told investigators three males in knit caps and ski masks were involved. The witness reported that the suspects were 5’10” black males who may have been around the age of 16 due to their build.”
Mr. Cuellar’s chief of staff Jacob Hochberg released a statement Monday night saying: “As Congressman Cuellar was parking his car this evening, 3 armed assailants approached the Congressman and stole his vehicle. Luckily, he was not harmed and is working with local law enforcement.”
Monday’s carjacking was the second assault on a member of Congress in the District of Columbia this year. In February, Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) was assaulted in her apartment building, suffering bruises while escaping serious injury. Her chief of staff said the attack did not appear to be politically motivated.
Mr. Cuellar thanked the U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department for their work, saying the “message is very simple: You’ve got to support law enforcement.”
He said the attackers were masked, but he could still see that they were young. “They recovered the car, they recovered everything, but what really got me upset is they took my sushi,” he joked.
White House press secretary Karine-Jean Pierre called the carjacking “unacceptable” and said President Joe Biden spoke to the congressman today.
“We will always continue to speak out against any sort of violence. We’ve been consistent here in this administration,” she said. “We are certainly grateful and relieved that the congressman is unharmed, and we are thankful to law enforcement for having reacted so quickly.”
The 68-year-old Texas Democrat’s car was recovered about two miles away in the Anacostia neighborhood, according to a report from a local NBC affiliate station.
Crime on the Rise
Homicides in Washington, D.C., are likely going to reach highs not seen in decades, with officials reporting 215 murders so far this year. In comparison, there were 157 homicides in all of 2022, police data show.
In late September, the capital city hit the 200 murder mark, according to officials, which drew a response from the D.C. Police Union on social media.
“We are still short 100s of cops and the responsible policing that used to address this has been prohibited by misguided legislation,” the union wrote on X, formerly Twitter, more than a week ago.
Earlier this year, Republicans criticized the leaders of Washington, D.C., during a House hearing, portraying the capital as a Democrat-run city that has long been mismanaged and fallen into a state of disarray due to left-wing bail reform rules. In May, they passed a measure that would overturn a so-called police reform package that was passed by the D.C. Council amid the nationwide riots and protests in 2020.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.