A student was reportedly choked from behind and robbed Wednesday night while walking home along the 3800 Block of W Street.

Rhonda Ferns (GRD ’10) said she was walking on 38th Street at around 9 p.m. when she heard someone run up behind her.

“The person grabbed me and told me not to say anything,” Ferns said, adding that the street was well lit. “I was afraid he was going to drag me off and do something horrible to me, so I decided to scream.”

The suspect then choked Ferns until she lost consciousness.

“When it was happening to me, when I was losing consciousness, I stopped thinking that I was being strangled. I kept thinking about why I couldn’t move and why my legs were tingling,” she said. “Why can’t I feel anything, why am I falling to the ground?”

Ferns said she was not unconscious for long but that she could not remember where she was when she first awoke. That’s when she realized, she said, that her backpack was gone.

According to the Metropolitan Police Department report, the backpack held Ferns’ leather wallet, which held several credit cards and a debit card, her laptop and her iPod Touch.

Ferns said she ran in the direction in which she thought the suspect had run, screaming for help.

“I was yelling loudly on the street, so everyone who was out pretty much heard it,” she said. A neighbor who came outside called MPD, which responded to the incident.

A witness reported to MPD seeing the suspect running east of W Street, then turning north onto 38th Street.

The MPD report describes the suspect as a light-skinned black male between 20 and 30 years old and approximately five feet 10 inches and 180 pounds. At the time of the incident, the witness said, he was wearing a gray shirt and dark-colored pants.

The area was canvassed by MPD with negative results, according to the report.

Ferns declined any medical treatment after the incident.

Ferns recently moved to the Glover Park area of Washington, D.C., which she called a relatively safe neighborhood. “We always think we’re in a safe neighborhood,” she said. “All it takes is one crazy person to ruin everything.”

Ferns reported the incident to the Department of Public Safety yesterday, and DPS sent out a public safety alert yesterday evening.

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