The Catholic University Of America

Office of the President

Washington, D.C. 20064


April 7, 2003

Message From the President on the Colonel Brooks’ Tragedy

I speak for the entire Catholic University community when I say that we were deeply saddened to learn of the tragic deaths Sunday of three employees at Colonel Brooks’ Tavern: Rodney Barnes, Joshua Greenberg and Neomi Payne. That these senseless crimes occurred on the Lord’s Day – a day of worship and rest, a day of peace – makes them even more horrible.

For many years, Colonel Brooks’ has been part of our university life as a regular meeting place for students, faculty and staff.  Our hearts and fervent prayers go out to the Barnes, Payne and Greenberg families.  We pledge our continued, prayerful support to Colonel Brooks’ owner Jim Stiegman and all the employees there. Their loss is our loss as well.        

So that we might join together to remember the victims and their families, friends and coworkers, I invite the CUA community to a Mass at Caldwell Auditorium on Wednesday, April 9, at noon.

The tragedy at Colonel Brooks serves as a stark reminder that crime is no stranger to urban neighborhoods, regardless of zip code or socioeconomic status, regardless of whether one lives or works in Georgetown or Anacostia. We regularly caution all the members of our university community, but most especially our students, to avoid occasions whereby they may put themselves in harm’s way, for example by walking alone late at night far off campus. We must remember to be vigilant about our own safety and the safety of our friends and loved ones.

Our Department of Public Safety  — through safety awareness education — strives in every way it can to assist members of the CUA community in maximizing their own safety. The fact that the managers of our public safety office work very closely with the Metropolitan Police Department to coordinate crime prevention and detection efforts is a great safety advantage for us on campus. Indeed, many of our public safety managers are former members of the local police department and thus have not only the law enforcement training needed to protect our campus but also invaluable links to their former co-workers on the police force.


Our campus is safe and I pledge to ensure that the CUA administration will work to keep it so. Meanwhile, I have asked the Department of Public Safety to redouble its efforts to explore ways with the Metropolitan Police Department to increase the level of safety in the streets and neighborhoods that adjoin our campus.


Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M.