**FILE** Metropolitan Police Department vehicles (Courtesy photo)
**FILE** Metropolitan Police Department vehicles (Courtesy photo)

A week after a gunman killed a Metro employee and injured two commuters, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and Metro General Manager Randy Clarke revealed plans to increase police visibility at District Metro stations. 

Starting next week, officers from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) will patrol select Metro stations in partnership with the Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD). This endeavor, which goes on until the end of the fiscal year in June, will start at Metro stations that crime data has designated as the highest risk.   

Rush-hour commuters at Union Station, Metro Center, Georgia Avenue-Petworth, Congress Heights and Gallery Place-Chinatown will soon see two on-duty MPD officers patrolling on foot along Metro platforms.  

WMATA, which is funding this endeavor, is currently working with law enforcement agencies in the region to secure officers for other train stations and buses on the transit system. “This will get us closer to our customers where they can see us on trains and buses,” Clarke said on Wednesday evening at Metro Center on 12th and G streets in Northwest. 

“We do believe Metro is safe. I’m on the system every day. Every day we wake up knowing it’s our job to do everything possible to make the system safe.” 

In recent months, MTPD increased rush-hour patrols by 30 percent and strengthened its surveillance network. Crisis intervention specialists have also been dispatched while MTPD officers have been equipped with Naloxone to prevent opioid overdose. 

In the realm of community engagement, MTPD recently launched a campaign to warn commuters against evading fare. For many commuters, however, not even these measures proved sufficient in the aftermath of the deadly shooting at Potomac Avenue Metro Station. 

According to court documents, Isaiah Trotman, 31, shot one person in the leg on the morning of Feb. 1 aboard a Metrobus shortly after it pulled into Potomac Avenue Metro Station. Minutes later, Trotman entered the station, dragged a commuter through the turnstile and pressed a gun against their back as they walked on the platform. 

From that point on, Trotman held another commuter at gunpoint as they were speaking on the phone. Metro employee Robert Cunningham, standing nearby, attempted to subdue Trotman. Trotman shot Cunningham during this struggle and kicked him several times; Cunningham later succumbed to his injuries. 

Trotman then pushed the two hostages onto a Silver line train where, at times, a struggle for the gun ensued.  One of the victims ran off the train with the gun and threw it across the platform, where police officers later found it. According to court documents, Trotman jumped onto the train tracks to search for the gun. 

Once Trotman hopped back on the platform, MPD officers arrived and stopped him, arresting him shortly after. 

On Tuesday, a D.C. Superior Court judge remanded Trotman, an Air Force veteran who was enrolled in a behavioral health program, to D.C. Jail until his next scheduled court appearance on Feb. 16. His charges include first-degree murder while armed, assault with a dangerous weapon, and three counts of kidnapping while armed. 

The shooting at Potomac Avenue Metro Station came just weeks after two elementary school students were shot in the midst of an altercation that broke out aboard a Metrobus in Northwest. Similar incidents unfolded on public transportation throughout much of 2022. 

Some parents, like LaJoy Johnson-Law, have since called for establishing a separate mode of transportation for District public and public charter school students. 

In terms of MPD presence on Metrobuses and the rail system, Johnson-Law said that she would rather have police officers on the scene during a hostage situation. At the same time, she questioned whether officers would be able to quell a mental health episode without killing someone. A bigger picture item for Johnson-Law concerned whether the District has put enough preventative mental health and economic measures in place to quell the underlying problems affecting community members. 

“Train passengers shouldn’t have to fight off a person in crisis. Police could’ve been helpful, but is it going to stop or deter people?,” Johnson-Law said. “People made up their minds about what they’re going to do [but] I would rather a trained professional subdue a gunman than a metro passenger on their way to work. There are a lot of issues with police but everyone has a time and place. An officer trying to subdue a gunman is more appropriate than them dealing with classroom matters.”

Sam P.K. Collins

Sam P.K. Collins has more than a decade of experience as a journalist, columnist and organizer. Sam, a millennial and former editor of WI Bridge, covers education, police brutality, politics, and other...

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