He was a hardworking immigrant, a grandfather whose life was allegedly taken by two girls — 13 and 15 — who carjacked his vehicle, used a stun gun on him and caused the car to flip.
According to The Washington Post, 66-year-old Mohammad Anwar, a native of Pakistan, was killed in the crash Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Both girls now face juvenile felony murder and carjacking charges.
Washington police said that the carjacking attempt happened at roughly 4:30 p.m. The location was near Nationals Park, WRC-TV reported. Anwar was working as an Uber Eats driver when the attack happened.
Detective Chad Leo of the police homicide unit said the girls told police they wanted to steal a car, according to The Post.
From eyewitness accounts and a video caught on a cellphone, Leo said, police reconstructed what happened from there. The two girls tried to carjack Anwar by attacking him with the stun gun. A struggle ensued from there; the 13-year-old purportedly shouted, “He’s got my cellphone!”
Anwar was forced out of the car and the 15-year-old got in the driver’s seat, with the 13-year-old in the passenger’s seat.
However, when Anwar tried to get back into the car by getting on top of the girl in the driver’s seat, the teen in the passenger’s seat turned on the ignition and moved the gear shift. From there, the car accelerated, turning right and running into the curb, causing the vehicle to overturn. Anwar was “hanging outside the car” during this time and was thrown from the vehicle during the accident.
Police said Anwar suffered a head injury and broken bones in the crash. Police and a member of the National Guard apprehended the girls inside the car with the wheels still spinning.
Medics rushed Anwar to a hospital, where he died of his injuries.
Crash with vehicle overturned 1200 block Van St SE. vehicle on its side. No entrapment. #DCsBravest have 1 victim with critical life threatening injuries and are assessing 2 additional patients.
— DC Fire and EMS (@dcfireems) March 23, 2021
“He was a hardworking immigrant who came to the U.S. in 2014 to build a better life for himself and his family. The loss for his family is immeasurable,” a statement from Anwar’s family read, according to WRC.
The Post reported the family added that they were “devastated by this senseless crime.”
“I saw all the police cars first. Then I saw the car, and I thought, ‘This must be a movie scene or something,’” witness Pamela Johnson said, adding she typically parks where the accident happened, according to WRC.
“I think that people do need to be brought to justice and that they have to stand for what they did and be accountable for their actions, because someone died.”
Even in a country that’s been inured to quite a bit over the past year, the details of Anwar’s death still shock. And sadly, it fits too well into the narrative of soaring crime rates since the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Washington, D.C., has seen an epidemic of carjackings this year, with the situation being ugly enough that the D.C. police and FBI launched a carjacking task force, according to The Post. In the first five weeks of 2021, there were 46 carjackings in the District compared to only eight during the same time period last year.
EXCLUSIVE: Law enforcement sources tell me 2 teenage girls, ages 13 & 15, are accused of an armed car jacking in SE Washington, DC. The car crashed & flipped over near Nats Park. The victim landed on the sidewalk & died at a hospital. Police arrested 2 suspects: @nbcwashington. pic.twitter.com/S5sqKE5gKc
— Shomari Stone (@shomaristone) March 24, 2021
During 2020, meanwhile, there was a 143 percent spike in carjackings in Washington. The Post noted other cities, including Chicago, Minneapolis and New Orleans, had seen similar pandemic-related carjacking issues. In October and November 2020, for example, Minneapolis saw a 537 percent spike in reported carjackings.
Many of the carjackers, like the two juveniles in the Anwar case, don’t even know how to drive. The District of Columbia has arrested 23 juveniles ages 12 to 17 on carjacking charges this year alone.
Police chief Marcus Jones of Montgomery County, Maryland, whose county abuts the District, said that young carjackers often “not understand the seriousness of what they’re actually doing, the willingness to go out and — not only endanger the lives of others — but they’re also endangering their own lives for those who really don’t know how to drive.”
Where are the solutions? The Post noted that “police experts” blame “the coronavirus pandemic that has closed schools and youth programs, and made outreach and monitoring more difficult.”
D.C.’s public schools only opened in early February for in-person learning, however, and The Washington Post reported attendance was low for the first week. Of course, the Washington Teachers’ Union, which represents the District’s teachers, was on the brink of a strike over the reopening, according to DCist, after having dragged the process out.
Whatever the cause, the carjacking claimed the life of Anwar — a man who was a devoted father and grandfather. His family is raising money to give him a proper Muslim burial, WRC reported.
Two girls not old enough to drive stand charged with murder and carjacking — all because they said they wanted to steal a car, according to police. These are the faces behind the statistics.
One hopes we won’t have to mourn too many men like Anwar after the worst of the pandemic has passed — but sadly, the possibility of high crime rates being a lingering effect of COVID-19 is all too real.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.