Chief: Brutal group linked to 9 beatings

Amy Hunter,

WASHINGTON – A total of five men have been arrested in connection with the brutal beating near Eastern Market in August and police say the group is responsible for nine separate violent assaults in recent months.

“Different members of the group would go out together at different times,” Cathy Lanier, D.C. police chief, said on Thursday. “We’ve linked them now to several cases. I think we’re up to nine, and the investigation is ongoing.”

Three suspects were charged in September for the beating that left Thomas Maslin, 29, unable to speak in August after three brain surgeries.

Maslin, who is married with one young child, was walking home from a Nationals game on Aug. 18 when police say he was violently robbed and beaten. His credit card and cell phone were taken and he was found unconscious on the porch of a Capitol Hill row house the next morning. Maslin was in a coma for six days and was left blind in one eye.

Tommy Branch, 21, of Fort Washington, Michael Moore, 18, of Landover, and Sunny Kuti, 17, of southeast D.C., are charged in the attack.

“Right now we’ve identified, in addition to the three, another two guys,” Lanier said. “We’ve linked that group of five, in various different combinations, to various crimes, all of which the victims were beaten.”

All five have been arrested and charged, and Lanier says the investigation is ongoing and she expects more charges will be filed.

“We’re really looking at targeting robbery suspects that cause injury to the victims,” she says. “There really should be a whole different view on how you view someone who commits a robbery who just takes your property, versus somebody who injures you.”

“We’ve seen groups now, like this group, who unnecessarily assault victims and cause pretty significant injury.”

Lanier says violent crime in the city is up about 6 percent and robbery is up about 5 percent, although she attributes this climb to an increase in domestic assaults, which she says tend to be isolated.

Lanier and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray were guests on WTOP’s “Ask the Chief” show on Thursday.

To learn more about Friday’s violent assault on Rhode Island Avenue, casinos in Prince George’s County and the status of early voting in the District, read a blog of the show below.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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