Senator John Stennis Mugged and Shot in Front of Cleveland Park Home

Senator John Stennis (Wikipedia)
Senator John Stennis (Wikipedia)

That’s right, the Senator from Mississippi and chairman of the Armed Services Committee was shot both in the chest and the leg, after he was mugged in front of his North Cleveland Park house (3609 Cumberland St. NW). He was returning home in the evening after work on January 30th, 1973.

The Washington Post reported the following on the incident:

After driving home alone and parking in front of his house, as was his custom, he stepped out of the auto and was approached by two youths in their late teens, according to police accounts.

While he was standing in the roadway, the youths demanded money, “Get ’em up,” one demanded. Offering no resistance, according to accounts, the senator turned over his wallet, which contained credit cards, a gold pocket watch, his Phi Beta Kappa key and a 25-cent piece.

“Now we’re going to shoot you anyway,” the youths were quoted by the senator. Or, the police reported, it might have been “We ought to shoot you anyway.”

The ambulance was called from Adams Morgan to race up the three miles to the senator’s home. Two ambulance attendants, Pvt. William Taylor and Pvt. Robert Adams, didn’t know the gravity of the situation, nor the that the victim was a senator until they were a few blocks away.

In the meantime, Stennis had staggered into his home and sat down on the couch in his living room, bleeding profusely from his wounds and when the ambulance finally arrived, the senator was conscious, but fading.

As the ambulance made its way to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, President Nixon was notified and the FBI were informed — a 1971 law made it a federal crime to assault, kidnap or kill a member of Congress.

His condition was extremely tenuous, having serious wounds, both under his lower rib cage and in his left thigh. Senator Stennis underwent 6 1/2 hours of surgery and the press conference the following day labeled his chances as “guarded” that he would recover. The bullet had ripped through part of his stomach, pancreas and cut through a major vein that empties blood into the intestines. The bullet was not removed from the senator as they patched him up.

Two Washington teenagers were charged in the shooting, Tyrone Marshall and his brother John. Derrick Holloway was granted immunity in the case for turning state’s evidence against the brothers. Tyrone received a sentence of 10-to-30 years under the federal congressional assassination statue, armed robbery and assault with intent to kill while armed. John received a sentence of 15 years.

3609 Cumberland St. NW (Google Street View)
3609 Cumberland St. NW (Google Street View)

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  • A shooting in Van Ness? A 14th Street Red Light District?

    This and the article you posted yesterday about 14th Street makes me think you could do an entire blog dedicated to the events in DC over the past 40 years that would seem out of place today.

  • thevirginian021

    There have actually been a few armed robberies in the Tenleytown area over the past year or so. At least that’s what I read on a local triathlon club forum. They posted a note about it.

  • Clumsy phrasing on my part. I didn’t mean to imply that no crime was going on in DC. But that’s still a far cry from a Senator getting shot or an Italian Ambassador getting mugged at Meridian Hill Park.

    • Frog

      More ’70s crime facts: There were muggings at the Iwo Jima Memorial (so common that the Arlington County Board discussed the problem at a meeting in 1976). Unthinkable in 2015, even if crime is rising somewhat.

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  • Stacy

    This happened in 1973.

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  • HerodotusMagister

    One wonders how much of their sentence the perps of this crime actually served.

  • davidhalperindc

    I lived in that house from 1992 until 2014. Although there had been several intervening owners, the fuse box still had a marking for “Senator’s bedroom.” Soon after we moved in, on a very high shelf in a bedroom closet I found a diary, and I peeked at a page and determined that it had belonged to a teenager, apparently Senator Stennis’s daughter. I sent it down to Mississippi.