Bethesda

Police Arrest Suspect in Assault by Cyclist Over Racial Justice Flyers

Multiple men say internet sleuths trying to identify the cyclist have falsely accused them in the attack and tarred their reputations online

Police arrested a Maryland man after a cyclist was caught on video Monday morning on a Maryland bike trail gripping a young woman’s arm as he ripped a racial justice flyer out of her hand. One of two other young people with her told News4's Pat Collins the cyclist rammed him with his bike and pinned him to the ground

Anthony Brennan III, 60, of Kensington is charged with three counts of second-degree assault.

Park Police received hundreds of tips to help develop Brennan as the suspect, police said. 

Police contacted Brennan and his legal counsel Friday and got consent to search his home, police. Evidence was taken from the home and a warrant was obtained.

Brennan voluntarily surrendered to detectives Friday evening. 

Anthony Brennan III (credit Maryland National Capital Park Police)

In a statement provided by Brennan's attorneys, the suspect acknowledged his behavior was unacceptable and wrong and the community outrage is justified.

“I am sick with remorse for the pain and fear I caused the victims on the trail, and online," Brennan said. "I am cooperating fully with authorities. I am committed to making amends by addressing, through counseling, the underlying issues that led to my abhorrent behavior."

Police say they have a strong suspect in the attack on young adults on the Capital Crescent Trail. News4's Chris Gordon reports.
Police say they have a strong suspect in the attack on young adults on the Capital Crescent Trail. News4's Chris Gordon reports.

Multiple men say internet sleuths trying to identify the cyclist falsely accused them in the attack and tarred their reputations online. 

“I think it’s OK to do your own detective work if you like, but I very much draw the line at putting out names publicly unless there’s a positive ID,” the man who recorded the video said. He asked News4 not to use his name. 

A former Montgomery County Police Department employee was falsely accused, the department said in a tweet. A local marketing director also faced a false accusation, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said. 

In a tweet, the attorney general thanked the public for tips but added, “please don't name individuals & risk harm to innocent people.” 

One victim in the attack, who asked to remain anonymous, said he and others were posting flyers Monday morning in support of the George Floyd protests when they came across the cyclist on the Capital Crescent Trail near MacArthur Boulevard.

The video shows the cyclist with a flyer in his hand, confronting a woman. She puts her hand up to drive him away and shouts “Get away from me.” 

Then, he turns to a second woman. Her back is to a fence and she's much shorter than him. The cyclist grips her forearm, which shakes as she tries to fight him off. The cyclist rips a flyer from her hand as the man and first woman scream at him. 

“Do not touch her! Do not touch her, sir,” the first woman screams, her voice going hoarse. She comes to the second woman’s defense and pushes the cyclist away. 

“Get off of her,” she screams, pointing her finger in his face. 

Then, the cyclist walks away and grabs his bike. That’s when the man says the cyclist turned to him.

“He sees me recording him and sees the fact that I recorded him as he was doing that, and he grabs his bike and he runs it into me and pins me to the ground,” the man said.

The video shows the cyclist rushing toward the man. Then the camera drops.

“He pretty much screamed at us. He was saying, ‘F--- you. You guys [are] inciting riots.’ He kept saying we’re ‘deviants.’ I’m not sure exactly what he meant by that," the man said.

All three victims, including two 19-year-old women, are adults, the man said. Some viewers of the video said they thought the second woman was a child.

The man said he is part of a project that posts flyers in affluent neighborhoods to raise awareness about racial injustice.

Park Police circulated photos of the cyclist and said they wanted to speak with him in reference to what they called an assault.

Frosh and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser both urged the public to help identify the cyclist to police. 

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