Men stopped, detained in P St. Beach raid
About a half dozen D.C. and U.S. Park Police officers swooped into the woods in P Street Beach about 3:20 a.m. on Oct. 10 and stopped but did not arrest several men they observed loitering in the well-known gay male cruising spot, according to a police official and an eyewitness.
The witness, a gay man who spoke on condition that he remain anonymous, said he and between a half dozen to a dozen men were cruising in a wooded area of P Street Beach park along a slope hidden from the street and sidewalk next to tennis courts along 23rd St., N.W., near P Street.
“One or two D.C. police cars came down the gully, blocked off one side and left their spotlight on” pointing into the woods, the witness said. The witness said he saw a Park Police car pull up along the tennis courts, with officers emerging and running down the slope shouting for the men to “stop.”
“I started running and so did the guy I was with,” said the witness. But the witness said more officers arrived from the other side of the park, heading toward where he was running. In what he described as a surreal scene out of a movie, he said he managed to escape after lying motionless behind a log in the underbrush in the park for nearly an hour.
“I lay there with my head down and just waited,” he said. “I assumed most of the other guys got caught, but I don’t know for sure … And they kept coming back,” he said of the police officers. “They were shining their lights and I heard them say, ‘Come out wherever you are.’”
Assistant D.C. Police Chief Diane Groomes said a Park Police contact and the watch commander of the D.C. police department’s Second District told her the officers participating in the police action did not make any arrests. Instead, Grooms said, they “stopped some subjects.” She said she was awaiting further details from both D.C. and Park Police.
Park Police officials have said in the past that they routinely take the names and other information from people they stop in P Street Beach at night, when the park is closed to the public and people entering are considered trespassers. According to Park Police officials, the officers issue warnings to the people they stop in the park at night, telling them they could be subject to arrest for trespassing if they are caught there a second time.
Grooms said D.C. police have recently received several complaints from parents of students attending Frances Junior High School, which is located next to P Street Beach, and from school officials about “illegal activity” in the park. She said the people making the complaints pointed to disposed condoms and trash in the area where people were said to be loitering in and around the park.
P Street Beach is a section of Rock Creek Park near Dupont Circle that runs along the banks of Rock Creek. Like all of Rock Creek Park, it is maintained by the U.S. Park Service and patrolled mostly by U.S. Park Police.
Fla. sheriff seeks help from gays in murder of Va. businessman
The Broward County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office last week asked a gay newspaper in Fort Lauderdale to publish information about the Sept. 11 murder of an Alexandria business executive, who was found dead in his vacation home in Pompano Beach.
Samuel DelBrocco, 61, chief executive officer of Alexandria-based PCI Communications, a public relations and corporate communications firm, was last seen alive by friends at a Fort Lauderdale restaurant a day or two before police discovered his body in his posh, waterfront home in Pompano Beach, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Norman Kent, editor and publisher of South Florida Gay News, said sheriff’s officers hand-delivered to his office a flier about DelBrocco’s murder, which includes DelBrocco’s photo, and urged him to publish the information.
Sheriff’s Office Det. Efrain Torres told the Blade that investigators don’t know whether DelBrocco had ties to the gay community.
“We want as much exposure as possible,” he said. “We’re reaching out to all media.”
Anyone with information about the murder should contact the Broward Sheriff’s homicide squad at 954-765-4321 or the Broward Crime stoppers hotline at 954-493-8477.