Coming home from catching a movie on UVA Grounds, Chris Martin pedaled his bike up the hill on W. High Street, heading east. It was just after 11:30pm, and as he got to the first blinking stop light, a man got out of the back of a Ford Explorer and said to Martin, “Hey, I got a question for you.”
As Martin rode past him, the man knocked him from his bike as three other men jumped out of the Explorer. They ran over to Martin, who was lying on his back.
“Two of the guys were hitting me in the face,” says Martin, roommate of a C-VILLE staffer. “One of the guys was digging his hands in my pocket, I assume looking for my wallet. The other guy didn’t touch me. I think he must have been some kind of a look-out guy.”
Four white men pushed a man from his bike around here and beat him in the middle of High Street in an attempted robbery at around 11:30pm on February 19, according to the victim.
For about 10 seconds, Martin lay on his back, trying to fend off the blows from the two men. And just as suddenly as the first man had knocked him from his bike, a car appeared on High Street, headlights shining. The men scattered in different directions, the Explorer still running. Martin took this as his opportunity. He got to his feet, grabbed his bike and sped off.
Looking over his shoulder as he raced to his home on Locust Avenue, he came to 10th Street and faced a red light.
“I just blew through,” says Martin. “I realized once I made the left turn onto Locust Avenue that I was probably all right. I hadn’t seen any cars around me.”
According to the police report, the four assailants were white males, 18 to 25 years old. Nothing was taken from Martin, a fourth grade teacher at St. Anne’s Belfield. Since September, 400 assaults have occurred in the city, 44 of them in the greater Downtown area, according to city police.
The High Street attack was the second of three city incidents in the span of four days in which people traveling alone at night have been robbed, assaulted or both. On the night of February 18, a man was robbed of his wallet at gunpoint near the 300 block of Robertson Avenue, near Jefferson Park Avenue.
In the early morning hours of February 21, according to the Charlottesville Police Department, a female UVA student was robbed and sexually assaulted on the 1600 block of Grady Avenue. Police arrested city resident Christopher Allen Noakes, 39, and charged him with robbery, attempted rape, forcible sodomy and abduction. The victim was taken to the UVA Hospital, where she was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
As for Martin, who suffered bruises on the left side of his face, a black eye and a swollen lip, he says that he was lucky that a car scattered his attackers so quickly. He had taken that route home at least 50 times, he says, and never had any problems.
“I hate to say it, but I doubt I’ll be taking the bike out at night for a while,” he says. “I’m a little gun shy right now.”
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