WASHINGTON – Washington, D.C., police are baffled by an attempted robbery in the Capitol Hill neighborhood that began with a handgun put to the head of a teenager and ended in a group hug.
It started about midnight on June 16 when a group of friends was finishing a dinner of marinated steaks and jumbo shrimp on the back patio of a District of Columbia home. That's when a hooded man slid through an open gate and pointed a handgun at the head of a 14-year-old girl.
"Give me your money, or I'll start shooting," he said, according to D.C. police and witnesses.
Everyone froze, including the girl's parents. Then one guest spoke.
"We were just finishing dinner," Cristina "Cha Cha" Rowan, 43, told the man. "Why don't you have a glass of wine with us?"
The intruder had a sip of their Chateau Malescot St-Exupery and said, "Damn, that's good wine."
The girl's father, Michael Rabdau, 51, told the intruder to take the whole glass, and Rowan offered him the whole bottle.
The robber, with his hood down, took another sip and a bite of Camembert cheese. He put the gun in his sweatpants.
The story then turns even more bizarre.
"I think I may have come to the wrong house," he said before apologizing. "Can I get a hug?"
Rowan, who works at her children's school and lives in Falls Church, Va., stood up and wrapped her arms around the armed man. The four other guests followed.
"Can we have a group hug?" the man asked. The five adults complied.
The man walked away a few moments later with the crystal wine glass in hand. Nothing was stolen, and no one was hurt.
Once he was gone, the group walked into the house, locked the door and stared at each other — speechless. Rabdau called 911, and police came to take a report and dust for fingerprints.
Police classified the case as strange but true. Investigators have not located a suspect. The witnesses thought he might have been high on drugs.
"We've had robbers that apologize and stuff but nothing where they sit down and drink wine. It definitely is strange," said Cmdr. Diane Groomes, adding that the hugs were especially unusual. "The only good thing is they would be able to identify him because they hugged them."