Monday, November 03, 2008

The Most Dangerous Part of Silver Spring Manages to Outdo Itself

While many of us were in the AFI Theatre enjoying Night of the Living Dead after the conclusion of our Zombie Walk, a 14-year-old was senselessly murdered in a Ride-On bus at the intersection of Piney Branch Road and Arliss Streets, right in the heart of what continues to be the most crime-ridden area of Silver Spring. Apologies to people who live there, but it's just a fact. You are the ones who have to deal with these degenerates on a daily basis, so you can appreciate this more than anyone.

The victim and his friends were on their way home after hanging out in downtown Silver Spring, and there's a good chance our zombies shuffled right past him on our way from the Quarry House to the AFI. On the bus he took home from downtown, some sociopath shot him and two of his friends for no clear reason. Fortunately, it appears the other two kids will survive.

We've seen all sorts of mayhem in this neighborhood in recent years, from machete rapes to the cold-blooded murder of a convenience store clerk, as well as plenty of other violent crimes. Gang members have even fought over the computers at the Long Branch library. In many of these cases, it turns out that the perpetrators are not from Silver Spring or Montgomery County at all, but from just over the line in P.G. County. Frankly, I think it's time to put up a checkpoint at the county border like D.C. does in Trinidad, or better yet, erect a giant concrete wall like they have around particularly dangerous neighborhoods in Baghdad. This may seem like an extreme measure, but we've got to protect our citizens by any means necessary.

(Side note: I did a Google search for "PG County Map" and Prince George’s County Maryland crime maps was the first result. I think that says a lot.)

This one small corner of Silver Spring continually tarnishes our good (?) name. When people browse the headlines they see "Murder in Silver Spring" and while this type of violence may be localized in a particular corner of town, all people recall is "murder in Silver Spring" and unfairly consider all of Silver Spring to be a dangerous area.

As far as the safety of buses goes, I know a lot of people who ride the Metro every day but won't step foot on a bus. Call it snobbery, but for whatever reason, the really messed up shit like this only happens on buses. The last time I rode the Metrobus some guy attacked the outside of the bus and chased it down the block, boarding and refusing to get off. That incident is far tamer than many the stories I've heard from others who ride the bus more frequently than I. I've ridden the train countless times and witnessed very few incidents, if any. Of course, 14-year-old kids don't really have the option to drive, so they must ride buses where the Metro isn't an option. Someday the Purple Line may run through this neighborhood, so God knows if people will be getting shot on trains then, too.

UPDATE:
They arrested the guy. Did he really think he was going to get away with it?

Speaking of that area:

Piney Branch Hardware on Flower Avenue, which has been serving that area for quite a long time, either has already or will be closing soon. Check out this video of all the old stuff they had collected in their basement.



19 comments:

Vagrarian said...

That's about three blocks from my apartment.

Yeah, it's crime-ridden, but at the same time, I've been here for a while and I've never been the victim of anything. One of my neighbors was burglarized once, and there was once a mugging a block away, but I've never been attacked or mugged or anything. Maybe it's just the luck of the draw; maybe I'm just lucky.

I take the 12 Ride-On bus to work most days; never had a problem. I used the buses like crazy a few years back when I was living a car-free lifestyle for a while, and I was OK.

I dunno; there are problems around here, but they haven't affected me all that much. It's hard for me to judge. If this is the worst part of Silver Spring then maybe the town as a whole isn't all that bad....

flibberty said...

It didn't happen during the Zombie walk. It happened the night before around 11 p.m. Not that it matters terribly except I don't really want my kids riding around in cars, buses, metros or anywhere, basically late on any night--probably anywhere. That's when all this type of #!%* happens.

Someone suggested this may have been a gang initiation rite--the gunman didn't know the kids, he just had a job to do.

Sligo said...

I'm pretty sure it happened the same night as the Zombie Walk (Saturday @ 11).

Just to clarify - the buses aren't particularly dangerous, but the wacky stuff tends to happen on them a lot more than it does on Metrorail.

Brent said...

It will be interesting to see whether the shooter (and friends) also were hanging out downtown that evening -- as the victim and his companions were. Could this be one of the "thugs" that some of us complained about earlier this year, but were assured didn't really exist, or weren't really a threat of violence?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, those buses are dangerous. I heard one even got attacked by zombies on Saturday night, right in the middle of downtown!

Thayer Avenue said...

Zombies? Downtown?? Quick! Everybody to the fire station!

Thomas Hardman said...

Ah, about that bit with "it's the other parts of Silver Spring that give DTSS the bad reputation"...

Note, if you will, that all of Aspen Hill east of Georgia Avenue is "Silver Spring 20906".

It's got a bit of a Crime Problem, too.

Sligo said...

Yes, Aspen Hill may have a bit of a crime problem, but all the high-profile crimes in Silver Spring seem to happen within a few blocks of the Piney Branch & University intersection.

Thomas Hardman said...

My sister lives right near there, and insists that her neighborhood is A-1 hunky-dory and she wouldn't want to live anyplace else for the world.

This even after someone broke into her house, stole her piggy-bank, terrorized her cats, and spraypainted "vatos locos SS" in the hallway of her house.

Of course, when she bought the place in 1979, where she lives was considered "a nice Jewish neighborhood". When people like me tell her she really ought to be a little more concerned about safety and security, she usually comes back with something like "but I don't really have anything worth stealing so they're not going to rob me and anyway I have good insurance".

Well, someone seemed to think it was worth breaking in to steal a piggy-bank (note to self, never leave piggy-banks where passersby can see them through the window) and leave some graffiti. And now this latest incident, as far as anyone is saying, someone got shot dead on the bus for no reason at all.

I do remember back in the late 1970s and early 1980s when all along Piney Branch from around Flower Avenue into the District was Hippie Love Paradise and they had cool little stores and awesome youth scenes. I'm not someone who scares easily but every time in the last 5 years or so that I've been along Piney Branch between University and Flower, I put on my best non-expression and think "drive on, drive through, drive on" and pray to not have to stop for a red light.

Aspen Hell, by the way, has the same "CSAFE" level of status and statistical surveillance with the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention as does that part of Silver Spring. However, we are not quite yet to the same level of decrepitude and abandonment as you see there between University Blvd and Sligo Creek along Piney Branch. I give it five years. Another success for "Ike" Leggett and his merry band.

flibberty said...

Oh....perhaps that's why we did not see any Zombies on Sunday night. Shoot!

Anonymous said...

I think that's a bit of an overreaction. The bus murder was the type of outrage that doesn't occur in high-crime areas very often, let alone in MoCo. Yes, that part of SS may have more crime than others, but it should be put in context. MoCo has just a few homicides every year, compared with 200 or so in DC.

I live a few blocks from where the murder took place and I take the bus every day and have had no problems. There has been a rise in petty crime, though, perhaps due to the tanking economy. I would like to see an increased police presence, with a focus on gang activities.

Anonymous said...

They caught the shooter over the weekend. It's been confirmed that he has ties to MS-13.

lis said...

I also live in that area (~8500 block of Flower Ave) and, while there have been times I've felt skittish walking around it wasn't anything unreasonable (I am female and used to watching around me). To be honest I'm a little tired of well-to-do white suburbanites going off their rails because there's crime in their vicinity. Stuff happens. Keep yourself safe.

Also, my mailing address is Takoma Park and I don't consider Arliss and Piney Branch to be Silver Spring at all.

Rebecca said...

The way you talk about Long Branch makes it sound like you are more worried about keeping up the precious Silver Spring name and property values than actually dealing with issues of youth crime in PG and MoCo. I like reading your blog but that tone really turns me off. It's a great neighborhood with occasional crime that rarely affects those without a foot in the gang life. Langley Park and Long Branch are fabulous, diverse neighborhoods with great restaurants that could use MORE investment in schools, parks, safety, etc. not a wall between the poors and the riches.

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