Police shut down the area near 17th and R streets near Dupont Circle for hours Monday following an usual sequence of events.
"My neighborhood's pretty relaxed and nothing too crazy happens, so definitely different," says Tiffany Moy.
The street was closed for close to three hours during the height of rush hour. Police say it all started when residents called them complaining about a suspicious man and vehicle. Both the man's shirt and car referenced 9/11 and U.S. Corporate Imperialism.
Police were concerned that his car contained explosives. They found a giant gas container, as well as an ammo container, but inside it weren't bullets, but books. The car wasn't exactly neat and tidy.
"Most of it, it looks like his life is in the back of that car," says Joe Trotter.
"It's unsettling," says Anna Carr. "I've been here two years and never had anything like this happen."
Residents say although you see all too much of this kind of scene in other parts of the city, they aren't used to it on R Street.
"You don't expect it, especially around an elementary school, which is I think the worst part of it."
Police have not said whether the man will face charges.