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Metro's Problems Evade Local Station

7/18/02

An attempted abduction at the Huntington Metro station on Saturday, July 13, doesn't concern Springfield resident Carol Butler, who uses the Springfield-Franconia station at various hours during the week, sometimes at night.

"I love the Metro. I really think they're isolated incidents," she said.

She parks at the station when she can, or at Springfield Mall when the Metro lot is full.

Miles Smutz, also of Springfield, uses the Metro on a regular basis as well.

"I haven't really seen any problems. I've never noticed anyone lurking around," he said.

Alexandria resident Jackie Kamara uses the Springfield-Franconia station sometimes. She wasn't aware of the attack.

"Another one?" she asked, when hearing about the attack, referring to another attack at the Braddock Road station in the recent past.

"The security at these Metro stations is not very good. Huntington's like a ghost town at night," Kamara added.

According to Metro public relations representative, Cheryl Johnson, the Springfield-Franconia station, which is on the end of the Blue Line, is relatively safe in relation to the 83 stations on the Metrorail system. There were 16 assaults reported in the Metro systems in 2001, and 22 assaults since January 2002, but none at Springfield, according to Johnson.

"Our cops have their eyes and ears open for anything of a suspicious nature," she said.

AT THE BRANCH AVENUE station on the Yellow Line, they incorporated the first observation tower in the parking lot. There is a possibility for more towers at other stations as well.

"We had an increase in parking-lot crimes," she said of that station.

Manuela Woodard started using the Springfield station regularly instead of Huntington because of her daughter's day-care schedule. She likes the setup at the Springfield station better.

"I was at Huntington more. A lot of cars were stolen. The garage was pretty dark. Here I never felt leery, everything is much more central," she said.

According to Fairfax County Police, the incident occurred in broad daylight, at 1:45 p.m. on Saturday, July 13. A 17-year-old Huntington-area girl was walking through the parking lot of the Metro station when two men in a car stopped to speak to her. The girl ignored the two men. Both men got out of the car, grabbed the girl and attempted to pull her into the car. They had begun to sexually assault the girl when a motorist observed the assault and began to sound the horn of her car. The two suspects freed the girl and fled the parking lot in a black car with a spoiler on the back. Police described the car as having a loose rear bumper and a red stripe on the windshield.

The driver was described as black, dark-complected, in his 20s, 5 feet 10 inches tall, with a stocky build. He had braids in his hair and several earrings in one of his ears. He had a letter-X-shaped scar on his forehead and wore dark glasses, blue shorts with an orange stripe on the pocket and a cross necklace around his neck. The other suspect was described as black, 19 to 21, 5 feet 2 inches tall, with a thin build and blue eyes. He had red, white and yellow braces on his teeth and wore a necklace with the American flag. He had a hoop earring and a pierced eyebrow and wore white, baggy pants that covered his shoes, and a tank top with red and gray horizontal stripes.

ONE SPRINGFIELD RIDER, who chose not to give her name, noticed some teen-agers loitering at the Springfield station on another day and talked to security about it.

"Every time something's happened, they've been proactive," she said.

Phillip Peterson, also from Alexandria, doesn't have faith in the security. "They're lackluster," he said, but also added, "All the Metros have the same security. Nothing ever happens in Springfield," he said.

Michelle Parker recently moved from Alexandria to Springfield and just started using the Springfield station instead of the Van Dorn station.

"Usually I see the station manager and cops," she said.

Dorothy Harper was from West Virginia and was surprised at the habits of people she saw at the station after she'd heard about the crime around Washington, D.C.

"Young women alone didn't seem worried. It was surprising," she said.

Some of the commuters at Springfield-Franconia station park in the garage at Springfield Mall and take a shuttle over. The upper floors of the multi-level garage have room for commuters and those parking for the metro are encouraged to park there, but Gail Spurr, director of marketing, said they don't really enforce it. She's confident in the Mall security who patrol on a regular schedule until after the Mall closes.

"I never worry when I walk out in the dark to my car here. I think they [commuters] feel very safe here. I don't think they'd park here if they didn't," she said.

Spurr estimated about 50 cars a day park there and either walk or take the TAGS bus to the station, which runs on a regular schedule Monday through Friday. It picks up on the first level by the mall door.

Butler has had to walk from the station to the Mall lot at night because a cab would not take her for such a short trip.

"I just learn to be careful," she said.

Anyone with information about the assault at Huntington is asked to call the Fairfax County Police at 703-691-2131.