DC police increase patrol in Bloomingdale neighborhood after attack on teachers

D.C. police have increased their presence in the Bloomingdale neighborhood and escorted kids at the Petit Scholars day care on walks this week, after officials said a homeless man attacked two teachers walking with young kids on Monday.

During a Ward 5 safety call Wednesday afternoon, Council member Zachary Parker said he expects the police escorts to continue, and addressed parent and community concerns, explaining it’s a “dynamic and active case.”

Russell Fred Dunkley III, 38, was arrested and faces two simple assault charges. He was also charged with lewd acts, misdemeanor sexual abuse of a child and assault on a police officer.

Police said Dunkley approached the group and asked for money, and refused to leave the teachers and kids alone despite being asked. When one of the teachers started calling 911, police said he punched her in the head and then punched the other teacher in the head. Witnesses also said Dunkley exposed himself and started masturbating.

Giving an update on the case during Wednesday’s call, Parker said Dunkley is well known in the Bloomingdale community. Dunkley is under arrest and in the hospital as of Wednesday night, and once he’s released, he’ll be arraigned.

Parker said he’s reached out to U.S. Attorney for D.C. Matthew Graves to express “in the clearest and most sincere ways that I fully expect, and demand, that this individual is held accountable for the harm that he’s caused these teachers, these young people and this entire community.”

He also said he’s requested an order for Dunkley to stay away from all Petit Scholars schools in Ward 5, and that Graves’ office acknowledged the request. Ultimately, Graves would have to request that, and a judge would have to grant it, according to Third District Police Capt. Christopher Moore.

Because Dunkley was being involuntarily held for mental health treatment, Parker said, by law, the District has up to 48 hours before he’s released back to D.C. police. Then, Parker said, Dunkley will be taken to be arraigned.

D.C. police, Moore said on the call, arrested Dunkley and “charged with three different charges, but he is back out unfortunately.” Those charges are similar to those from Monday’s incident, The Washington Post reported.

Dunkley usually spends time north of Rhode Island Avenue in the Bloomingdale area, so police are familiar with him, Moore said, adding Dunkley often makes threats toward women.

“If he’s not committing a crime, we can’t really do anything,” Moore said. “If he’s out, (he’s) free to walk around, of course. If his pants are down, or if he’s doing any kind of thing that looks like a crime to anybody, please call 911.”

There’s a “very high bar to cross legally” to get a stay-away order, Parker said.

But if a judge issues one, according to Moore, “if we see him back out there and he violates a stay away (order), we can arrest him for contempt of court.”

Parker acknowledged the uncertainty of the situation, telling community members, “I know this is not satisfying, because many of these components are still moving.”

WTOP’s Shayna Estulin contributed to this report.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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