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DC robbery victim decries light sentencing of suspect who later held others at gunpoint: 'take action'

A man robbed at gunpoint on the streets of Washington, D.C., told House lawmakers the individual responsible for the crime was released shortly after and committed additional robberies.

A man who was robbed at gunpoint on the streets of the nation's capital told House lawmakers Thursday that the individual responsible for the crime had his sentence reduced and took to robbing others once he was released.

Speaking to members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance, Mitchell Sobolevsky described the Washington, D.C., robbery and insisted that soft-on-crime policies and prosecutions contributed to the incident he found himself involved in.

"Some may say it is victim blaming, but the reality is crime exists. If you're not careful in violent cities like D.C., you may end up just as another statistic," he told lawmakers on Capitol Hill during his testimony.

Sobolevsky said the robbery took place in December 2020 during a short walk from his apartment near the White House to get groceries. Shortly after he began his walk, Sobolevsky said he noticed a "man acting suspiciously."


"He was looking over at me across the block, and I told myself nothing was wrong and that nothing was going on and that nothing bad was going to happen to me," he recalled. "After all, the street was busy. What could go wrong? I turn down the block and headed towards the grocery store, and I checked behind and there he was, still eyeing me. He followed my direction. Alarmed, I noticed a couple walking just behind me. ... Behind them [was] the would-be criminal."

"A few moments pass and I look again, and the couple is nowhere to be seen. The man is quickly approaching. Before I could think, he was next to me asking for money," he continued. "I politely said no and kept walking without realizing he had pulled a gun. The criminal stepped in front of me and stated, 'You know what it is,' before aiming a pistol at my face and pressing it against my forehead."

Sobolevsky said he "almost didn't believe" he was at the center of a robbery as he tried to process the rapid string of events.

"But then reality set in. I thought I was going to lose my life to a criminal on the street. He sat me down. I'll never forget our interaction, line by line. He told me, 'Do what I say, and you ain't going to die tonight.' All I could hear is you're going to die tonight … and that my mom would have to come down to D.C. to identify my body on some cold street in Washington, D.C. I remember looking into his eyes and seeing no life, no thought, no empathy, just evil," he said.

Sobolevsky said the perpetrator demanded "property after property," all while keeping a finger on the trigger of the gun pointed at his head.

The last words Sobolevsky heard from the man, according to his testimony, were "All right, you did good tonight. You ain't gonna die."

Following the armed robbery, Sobolvesky said the man stood him up and told him to walk. As he walked away, Sobolevsky said he turned back to see the man running away.

Despite the loss of several other pieces of property, Sobolevsky managed to hold onto his phone and called the police shortly after to report the crime.


"I'll never forget seeing the siren lights come and thanking God for the police," he said. "A young female officer responded immediately, and I knew I was safe and that my life was spared."

The man responsible for the robbery later went to trial. Sobolevsky said he "pleaded" with the judge "not to give a lenient sentence as this man would commit worse crimes than what he did to me."

"The judge proceeded to give my criminal 24 months and suspended a year of his sentence because the judge believed his judgment was still forming," he added. "This light sentence was given despite my criminal robbing six victims and two businesses. That's right — one year for multiple armed robberies. Within weeks of my criminal's release, he would go on to rob two more people at gunpoint, and I would only find this out because I was reading the D.C. weekly arrests."

Sobolvesky said he recognizes that America will "never be able to eradicate crime completely," but called on officials to "take action to ensure that it happens less frequently."

The nation's capital has grappled with a crime surge in recent years, hitting nearly a two-decade high of 226 homicides in 2021, according to Metropolitan Police Department data. Homicides dropped in 2022 but still surpassed 200, and acting D.C. Police Chief Pamela Smith announced the city had reached its 200th murder last week, putting the city on pace to have among the worst annual body counts since the 1990s.

Overall D.C. crime decreased between 2021 and 2022, but certain offenses remained higher than pre-pandemic levels. In 2023, total violent crime is on the rise again, up nearly 40% from last year, according to police data. Property crime is also surging, with motor vehicle thefts increasing 106% and robberies up 65%.

Amid the crime surge, federal prosecutors in the nation’s capital declined to prosecute 67% of people arrested last fiscal year in cases that typically would have been tried in D.C. Superior Court, The Washington Post reported in March. That number nearly doubled since 2015, but new data is expected soon as fiscal year 2023 comes to a close.

In March, Congress stepped in for the first time in nearly three decades to overturn a D.C. criminal code that was criticized for being soft on crime and aimed to reduce penalties for crimes like carjackings and burglaries. 

The city council later passed an emergency public safety bill in July, which increased penalties for certain offenses, including firing guns in public and carjackings, in response to the surging violence. The bill also helps judges to keep violent crime suspects in custody while awaiting trial.

Fox News' Megan Myers contributed to this report.

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