WASHINGTON – Americans living in and around the area where DNC staffer Seth Rich was brutally murdered on July 10, 2016, have mixed feelings on whether speculation surrounding Rich’s slaying is the stuff of conspiracy theories or evidence that the unsolved crime warrants a federal investigation.
On June 8 and 12, WND hit the D.C. bar scene frequented by Rich – including Lou’s City Bar, where the DNC staffer was last seen before he was shot to death – and Rich’s neighborhood to ask locals for their insight on the mysterious murder.
Bars throughout the nation’s Capital were hosting viewing parties to watch the June 8 congressional testimony of former FBI Director James Comey before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The bars opened their doors at 9 a.m., and several locals shared their thoughts on Rich’s slaying.
Watch as WND asks locals for their thoughts on Seth Rich murder and investigation:
Joseph Cortez, who watched the “Comey Crawl” at Union Pub, dismissed claims that President Trump colluded with Russia to leak the Democratic National Committee’s emails to WikiLeaks.
Cortez said he believes Rich was, indeed, the WikiLeaks source.
“He was the one who leaked the emails to WikiLeaks, originally the DNC emails. It wasn’t Russia that did that; it was Seth Rich,” Cortez told WND.
“I am not a conspiracy theorist – I think that maybe that should be looked into a little bit more,” he continued. “The president has done nothing wrong, and that was proven today. So I think we can move on with the agenda that the president has put forward.”
As WND reported, Rich was murdered July 10, 2016, near his affluent neighborhood in Washington, D.C. He was shot in the back with a handgun at 4:18 a.m. while he walked home, and nothing was taken from him. He was transported to a local hospital and was pronounced dead at 5:57 a.m. On July 22, just 12 days after Rich’s death and days before the Democratic Party Convention in Philadelphia, WikiLeaks released 20,000 emails from DNC officials.
The mainstream media networks have ignored recent revelations concerning Rich’s case. The little coverage they have spent on the investigation has been devoted to dismissing speculation surrounding Rich’s murder as “conspiracy.”
Cortez blasted the mainstream media for hastily dismissing speculation that Rich was the DNC leaker, and he suggested a federal investigation is warranted.
“The mainstream media is fake news,” he said. “I don’t care what the mainstream media says.”
Meanwhile, another man named Rocky Twymaan held a sign outside Union Pub that called on Americans to “pray for Trump and America.”
Twymaan, who supported Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential race, told WND he’s not familiar with details of the Rich murder, but he speculated that the DNC staffer’s slaying may have been politically motivated.
“That really could have been a possibility,” Twymaan said of claims that Rich’s murder could have been an inside job.
“The Democrats were very shady – look how they did Bernie Sanders,” he said. “Many of us that supported Bernie, we really think that if he had won, he would have won this election. Because this was a non-traditional political year. People were looking for something outside the system, and Hillary just did not offer that.”
Ultimately, God Himself intervened to stop Hillary Clinton from winning the White House, Twymaan claimed.
“The old saying is that you reap what you sow,” he said. “So many people in the Democratic Party were against Bernie Sanders. They were going to elect Hillary no matter what, and I believe God stepped in an intervened and said, ‘No, that’s not going to happen.’”
Twymaan said he’s calling on President Trump to hold a bipartisan White House prayer vigil “because we need it, because they really need divine intervention.”
On June 12, WND visited Lou’s City Bar – a bar in the Columbia Heights area of northwest Washington, D.C., that Rich frequented and where he spent his final hours drinking before he was shot to death near his home.
After requesting to speak to the manager of the bar for more information about the night Rich was killed, the WND reporting team was escorted out of the building.
The bar manager accused WND of “obstruction” and “disrespecting” the Rich family by investigating the unsolved case.
A man sitting outside Lou’s City Bar named Hakim revealed that he and Rich were good friends for about three years. He told WND he believes Rich’s murder was politically motivated.
“He was a very sweet guy – like one of the sweetest human beings you’d ever meet,” Hakim said. “We just used to hang out and have fun. He’s a really nice guy. He bought drinks for everybody. He would like hug you when he sees you. He was obviously very, very liberal. Like a real Democrat.”
He continued: “Rumors that he was with the Russian mafia, that he had leaks with the Hillary Clinton campaign – none of that was true. He was just a very innocent man.”
Hakim rejected claims that Rich was murdered for leaking emails to WikiLeaks, but he said he believes Rich was killed because he was privy to sensitive information concerning the DNC.
“I don’t think he was robbed – I think he was killed,” he said. “He had his credit cards and everything. I don’t think it was about robbing him. It was about somebody who had a grudge against him.
“Somebody thought he was doing something wrong – thought maybe we should terminate this guy before we get too far.”
Hakim continued: “I think it’s because he had access to some records because he was working with the DNC. And at that time, everybody was trying to shut people up about anything that they would know. Maybe he said something. He would vocalize the fact that there were so much Republican conspiracies going on and so many leaks going on with the Russians. Maybe he said that while he was drinking – and people took it too far.”
David Levin, a man with a long beard and Grateful Dead T-shirt who attended the “Comey Crawl” at Union Pub, emphatically slammed private investigators who say Rich wasn’t killed during a botched robbery, as the Metropolitan Police Department and Washington, D.C., mayor maintain.
“I’m pretty p-ssed off,” Levin said. “All the evidence shows that this guy was randomly murdered. And now to politicize that, you know, f–k people that are trying to turn it into something. The parents themselves are like really p-ssed off. They’re like, ‘Stop doing this.’ I mean, this guy is dead, so he doesn’t care. But for the family, for them now to politicize it, and upset the family, for all these people to step in and turn it into this big, you know, political conspiracy, f–k them.”
Jack Burkman, head of a team of private investigators in D.C. working to find Rich’s killers, told WND the Metropolitan Police Department was instructed by Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser for political reasons to stop investigating Rich’s murder.
Former detective Rod Wheeler, who was initially hired by the Rich family to solve Rich’s case, revealed to WND in May that the MPD withheld information from him pertaining to the murder after former DNC interim chairwoman Donna Brazile called police to ask why investigators were “snooping” into Rich’s slaying.
Levin, a self-described liberal, blasted investigators’ claims that police are failing to properly investigate the case and are withholding key evidence.
“That’s bulls–t. I trust the D.C. cops,” Levin said.
He suggested thieves targeted Rich and then panicked after they shot him, realizing the DNC staffer likely wouldn’t survive the shooting.
Levin said: “Let me ask you: How many cases [have there been] where a person is being robbed and the robbers were just trying to rob the person and, in the course of the robbery, the person died? And the robbers like freak out – like, ‘Oh s–t, this is more than we bargained for,’ and split?”
Another woman at a bar to watch the Comey testimony, Ashley Laudimer, insisted that Rich’s unsolved murder case has been “solved.”
“So the conspiracy behind that – tons of conspiracies,” she said. “It was solved. I will say that. In fact, it was solved as a random burglary. There is nothing that proves that he had anything to do with Clinton and the emails, with new information or was silenced – ‘silenced’ so to speak – for his involvement with his job.”
A man at the bar named Will shared Laudimer’s sentiments.
“That’s a sheer conspiracy theory,” Will said. “It’s been unsubstantiated by all authorities, and Seth Rich’s family. Any story to the contrary is, frankly, disrespectful to the family and local law enforcement. … I will not speak to that matter because I do not believe it is worth any more, definitively.”
Standing a few feet from where Rich was shot, a man named Wayne said black people have frequently been murdered in the neighborhood in the 47 years he’s lived in the area, while whites have rarely been murdered.
Wayne, who said he’s lived in the area since 1970, recalled only two or three white men getting killed in the neighborhood while, he said, “hundreds of blacks” have been murdered throughout the city.
“We’re talking about hundreds, throughout the city,” he said. “Now, all of a sudden, the focus is so intense. And I am just wondering why it hasn’t been this intense all the time.”
I didn’t know anything about [Rich.] Or anything about the incident. I just heard on the news what had happened. Why it happened, I don’t know. I don’t know anything about that. This neighborhood is predominantly black. Probably the last two years, it’s changed. The geographic of this neighborhood has changed. Now, you know, a white guy gets murdered – I mean a guy got murdered right in front of my house a few years ago. It was not big issue.
I’ve been around here since the ’70s; I’ve seen it. Now one white guy gets murdered, and now it’s blown up? I am not saying I am not concerned, but if you could put all this energy into all the murders, then I would feel a little more comfortable. But right now, I feel bad for his family, and I hope they find the person that did it – but just be fair about murders in general, not just one.
Another neighborhood resident, Robert Runfield, told WND he has lived in the area for about a year.
“I don’t know too much about it, just the fact that we live in the neighborhood and that was something that occurred,” he said. “We live about two or three blocks from here, so just knowing about what happened in the neighborhood is really just all that we know.”
Asked if he believes Rich’s murder was politically motivated, Runfield said: “I don’t think so. It’s all kind of a conspiracy, but yeah that’s kind of my opinion. I don’t think so. There are a lot of details that I think were just kind of made up, I guess.”
WND noted that the Metropolitan Police Department says Rich was killed during a botched robbery – but that the DNC staffer was found with all of his valuable possessions.
“I don’t know,” Runfield said. “It was late at night. Maybe it was a situation of a robbery gone wrong.”
Meanwhile, back at a bar called the Partisan, a woman named Angela Pira watched Comey’s testimony.
Pira told WND she believes Russia interfered in the 2016 election, even if Rich was the WikiLeaks source who leaked the DNC emails.
“Even if Rich did it, I don’t think the DNC or anyone associated with them would resort to assassination as revenge, because the damage had already been done at that point, and it seems outlandish to follow such a conspiracy,” she said.
“There are still many other opportunities, besides hacking the DNC email account, for Russia to have interfered in the election.”
For the time being, there are far more questions than answers in the mysterious case of Rich’s murder.
As WND reported, emergency responders, along with the Metropolitan Police Department and two local hospitals are refusing to reveal what hospital admitted and treated Rich before a physician pronounced him dead on July 10, 2016.
Furthermore, the D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has reportedly refused to release Rich’s autopsy report.
A police report issued by the Metropolitan Police Department indicates that Rich was “conscious and breathing” when law-enforcement authorities arrived on the scene. However, the report doesn’t name the hospital where Rich was treated or name the physician at the hospital who pronounced Rich dead. The report states:
CIC reports the sound of gunshots at 2134 Flagler Pl. NW. Upon arriving to the scene, the decedent was laying in the Southwest corner of the intersection of W. St. and Flagler Pl. NW. The decedent was conscious and breathing with apparent gunshot wound(s) to the back. The decedent was transported to local area hospital and was pronounced dead by attending physician at 0557 hours.
As WND reported, a manager at Lou’s City Bar, the last known location where Rich was seen before his murder, claims police never interviewed the bar’s staff or requested evidence, such as footage from security cameras. And police never questioned Rich’s DNC co-workers.
Rich’s story has been largely ignored by establishment media. Those who have called attention to the suspicious circumstances surrounding the murder have been branded “conspiracy theorists,” including Fox News host Sean Hannity.
WND also asked 125 members of Congress to weigh in on the unsolved murder, but not a single U.S. representative has agreed to address the case.