Fists flying, hair pulling. Two high school girls pound on each other. Friends stand around watching and laughing. Police quickly jump in and stop the fight, but the damage has been done.
FOX 5 caught the violence, right in the middle of the afternoon; not at a school or on the street. But inside the busy Judiciary Square Metro Station. It is something many Metro riders told us happens too often.
Passenger: “A lot of kids get on Metro and start screaming.” Passenger: “Best thing to do is just stay away from them.”
It is an ongoing problem highlighted over the years on FOX 5 News. Some of the fights have even been posted on YouTube. We found one involving a large group of kids being very loud and getting aggressive. Another video was posted as “Metro Gladiators.” It shows two guys hanging from the bars inside the train kicking each other. Some call it horseplay. But it turns dangerous when one of the men falls and gets hurt.
Riders we talked to said they have had enough.
“It’s irritating. It’s sad to watch and it’s irritating,” said Christopher Kush.
He rides Metro almost every day, usually getting on at the Tenleytown/AU station. He likens the rowdy scene he often encounters to an out-of-control school bus without a driver. “It can be dangerous,” said Kush. “The kids are loud. They're obnoxious. I've seen kids threaten other kids.”
Kush recently used his own cell phone to record an incident. A group of kids started arguing. The situation got more tense, continuing for six stops.
“It was ugly and it wasn't fair,” said Kush.
He said he was weary of getting involved because of what a friend experienced on the same train line a few weeks before.
“One of my employees came to work the other day, who did try to intervene, and had a knife pulled on him,” said Kush.
“We have to take action in order to quell that type of activity,” said Metro Deputy Police Chief Mark Olson.
He said the agency has identified the trouble spots. The stops include Tenleytown/AU, Minnesota Avenue, Anacostia, Brookland-CUA and Fort Totten.
Olson said disorderly conduct incidents are higher at those sites and extra resources are used.
“What we do is we deploy strategically when we know we're going to have these types of activities. For example, the school year and now especially as the weather gets nicer,” said Olson.
Officers, some of them undercover, fan out looking to stop trouble before it starts. Olson said it is working. According to Metro, calls for disorderly conduct have dropped three percent in the last two years. And the number of more violent attacks has also fallen.
“We do have them but it's very infrequent,” said Olson.
Olson said Metro Transit Police operate on a zero tolerance policy.
“They could be arrested. They could be escorted out of the system and have their parents called,” said Olson.
Riders are encouraged to alert police immediately of any problems. They want the train numbers so officers can be deployed.
But some passengers like Christopher Kush said it is not enough.
“I think that's not working and I think they know that. But it's also hard for them to be on every train,” said Kush.
And the rowdy riders know that too. So, violence scenes continue to pop up leaving riders like Kush to decide if they should look for another way home.