Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) was carjacked on Monday evening by three armed individuals near the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., according to his chief of staff.
As Mr. Cuellar was parking his vehicle in Navy Yard, the “armed assailants approached the Congressman and stole his vehicle," chief of staff Jacob Hochberg said in a statement. The U.S. Capitol Police also confirmed the incident in a statement, saying the carjacking occurred at 9:30 p.m. ET.
“Luckily, he was not harmed and is working with local law enforcement,” Mr. Hochberg continued. "Thank you to Metro PD and Capitol Police for their swift action and for recovering the Congressman’s vehicle."
So far, Mr. Cuellar personally has not issued a public comment about the matter.
"DC’s Metropolitan Police Department is investigating an armed carjacking that happened around 9:30 p.m. in DC's Navy Yard neighborhood," the U.S. Capitol police said in a statement. "The victim has been identified as a Member of Congress, so the USCP has investigators working with [Metropolitan Police Department] on this case. Injuries were not reported. Detectives are working to track down the suspects."
Descriptions of the suspects were not provided by police, and no arrests have been announced. The 68-year-old Texas Democrat's car was recovered about two miles away in the Anacostia neighborhood, according to a report from a local NBC affiliate station.
The incident on Monday evening made Mr. Cuellar the second U.S. House member to become the victim of a crime in the District of Columbia in 2023. Earlier this year, Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.), another Democrat, was attacked in her apartment building as she was inside an elevator building before fighting off her attacker.
Mr. Cuellar is not the only Democrat to become a victim of a carjacking in recent years. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.) was carjacked two years ago in Philadelphia.
This year, a staffer for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was "brutally attacked in broad daylight" in Washington. Police officials later confirmed that a suspect was arrested in connection to the incident.
Crime on the RiseHomicides in Washington, D.C., are likely going to reach highs not seen in decades, with officials reporting 215 murders so far this year. In comparison, there were 157 homicides in all of 2022, police data show.
In late September, the capital city hit the 200 murder mark, according to officials, which drew a response from the D.C. Police Union on social media.
"We are still short 100s of cops and the responsible policing that used to address this has been prohibited by misguided legislation," the union wrote on X, formerly Twitter, more than a week ago.
Earlier this year, Republicans criticized the leaders of Washington, D.C., during a House hearing, portraying the capital as a Democrat-run city that has long been mismanaged and fallen into a state of disarray due to left-wing bail reform rules. In May, they passed a measure that would overturn a so-called police reform package that was passed by the D.C. Council amid the nationwide riots and protests in 2020.
“Your position seems to have been ‘Hands off our city’ and that’s not going to fly with the Republicans on the House Oversight Committee,” Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, told members of the D.C. Council earlier this year. “We want to work with you and you’re going to have to work with us.”
Before that, in March, 33 Democrat senators joined Republicans to block an updated D.C. criminal code from becoming law, the first time in decades that such a measure was blocked by Congress and the White House.
“Carjackings and car thefts have become a daily routine. Homicides are racking up at a rate of four per week,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said during a speech on the Senate floor earlier this year. “This is our capital city. But local politicians have let its streets become a danger and an embarrassment.”
Responding to the recent crime wave, Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, and police have pushed a range of initiatives to curb the violence, including a curfew for teens in some areas, prosecuting juveniles as adults, and allowing judges to keep more defendants in jail before their trials, among other measures.