District Man Pleads Guilty to Armed Burglary At Gallaudet University Kitchen
Two Deaf Victims Help Identify Him as Assailant; Defendant Had Been Their Co-Worker
WASHINGTON - Donald Williams, 26, of Washington, D.C. pled guilty today to forcing his way at gunpoint into the kitchen of the food service department at Gallaudet University, where he used to work, and ordering employees to turn over money kept in a safe, U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips announced.
Two of the victims, who are deaf, helped identify him as the gunman.
Williams pled guilty in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to a charge of first-degree burglary while armed. He is to be sentenced on March 23, 2017 by the Honorable Danya A. Dayson. The charge carries a statutory minimum of five years in prison. Under the Court’s voluntary sentencing guidelines, Williams faces a potential range of 102 to 192 months in prison.
According to the government’s evidence, in the late afternoon of Oct. 22, 2016, Williams entered his former place of employment, the food service department on the campus of Gallaudet University, in the 800 block of Florida Avenue NE. Upon entry, he pointed a gun at two female employees and forced them into the rear of the kitchen. He forced one of the two victims into a storage room and the other, who is deaf, into a back office space that contained a safe that held daily deposits. He pointed a gun at the latter victim and motioned for her to open the safe. When she refused, he struck her upon the head with the gun, causing a laceration.
Williams left the office and approached a third female employee, who was located in a different area of the kitchen and was unaware that a robbery was taking place; this employee is also deaf. Williams pointed his gun at her, grabbed her by the shirt, forced her into the office with the other victim, and directed her to open the safe. Once she opened the safe, she and the other victim handed money to Williams, who then fled the scene.
During their interviews with members of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), the two victims who were directed to open the safe indicated that their assailant reminded them of their former colleague, Williams, who had been fired from Gallaudet University a few weeks before the crime. Although their assailant had a mask covering his face, the victims stated that his build, skin complexion, leanness, mannerisms, and gait were consistent with the defendant’s, whom they had worked with regularly for more than a year.
During their investigation, MPD located surveillance video footage depicting a vehicle similar to the defendant’s enter a parking garage on campus around the time of the crime. The video also depicted a male, wearing clothing identical to the look-out description, exit the vehicle and walk toward the building where the robbery occurred. MPD also recovered video from the defendant’s cell phone showing him dumping a large amount of cash into a bathroom sink bundled with red bands consistent with the description given by the victims. Williams recorded the cell phone video approximately three and a half hours after the crime. Finally, a black mask consistent with the mask described by the victims as the one worn by the assailant was found at the scene and was swabbed for DNA. Subsequent testing revealed the presence of Williams’s DNA on it. Williams was arrested on Dec. 20, 2016.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Phillips commended the work of those who investigated the case from the Metropolitan Police Department. He also expressed appreciation for the work performed by the Forensic Biology Unit of the District of Columbia Department of Forensic Sciences as well as Sorensen Forensics. He acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shana Fulton and Tamika Griffin; Michael Ambrosino, Special Counsel for DNA and Forensic Evidence Litigation; Diana Lim, Katina Adams-Washington, and LaJune Thames, all of the Victim/Witness Assistance Unit; Supervisory Paralegal Supervisor Darline Douglas; Lead Paralegal Specialist Lynda Randolph, and Paralegal Specialist Benjamin Kagan-Guthrie.
Finally, he commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Vanessa Goodwin, who investigated and prosecuted the case.