Updated: Attorney General says park police have a “strong suspect” in case of bicyclist who accosted group on Capital Crescent Trail
Authorities have twice debunked social media speculation
Maryland-National Capital Park Police said Thursday that they are trying to find a bicyclist who was seen in a video accosting a group on the Capital Crescent Trail.
Screenshot from video
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh wrote on Twitter Friday afternoon that Maryland-National Capital Park police have a “strong suspect” in the investigation into a bicyclist who accosted a group of young people on the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda this week.
Frosh tweeted Friday that “Park Police have a strong suspect as a result. But, please don’t name individuals & risk harm to innocent people.” He asked anyone with information to call Detective Lopez at 301-929-2774.
Video posted to social media shows a bicyclist trying to wrestle something from the hand of a young woman. Another young woman screams at him to leave the other young woman alone and tries to intervene.
The man then picks up a bicycle and rushes toward a young man filming the encounter. The young man filming starts moving away and appears to fall.
A 34-second video clip of the encounter had been viewed about 24 million times as of Friday afternoon. Waves of people on Twitter have been commenting, expressing anger and speculating about who the cyclist might be.
In a tweet on Friday afternoon, the Montgomery County Police Department said the speculation on social media that the cyclist was a former county officer was untrue.
In a separate tweet on Friday afternoon, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Chief David Huchler addressed comments that the man “resembles a former employee.” Huchler wrote that that person hasn’t worked for the department since 2018, but didn’t elaborate. He directed all questions to the Park Police.
The Park Police posted “more information to follow” in a tweet at about 2:30 p.m., but had not provided an update as of 3 p.m.
Many social media users on Thursday night and Friday morning thought they had identified the man as Bethesda businessman Peter Weinberg. They used an app called Strava, which tracks cycling and other types of exercise using GPS data.
Weinberg released a statement on his Twitter feed that included a police report clearing him of involvement.
Other people also speculated that a former county police officer was the bicyclist. However, the Montgomery County Police Department on Friday posted on Twitter that those allegations “are false.”
Maryland State Police, Frosh and the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s office have all announced they were looking into the case, too.
In an interview with NBC 4, the young man who videotaped the encounter said the bicyclist grabbed his bike, ran it into him and pinned him to the ground.
NBC 4 reported that the young man was part of a project in which people post “flyers in affluent neighborhoods to bring attention to racial injustice.”
The young man told NBC 4 that the bicyclist — who was wearing a helmet, cycling shorts and sunglasses — swore at him, accused the group of inciting riots and called them “deviants.”
The 34-second video posted to social media starts with the bicyclist turning to walk away from one young woman as he focuses on the other and walks toward her.
The bicyclist confronts the other young woman and tries to grab something in her hands, forcefully using both of his hands on her. The first young woman jumps in, pushes the bicyclist’s arm and screams, “Get off of her!” The bicyclist takes a few steps back before grabbing his bicycle and rushing toward the person filming.
Shortly after that, the young man was on the ground and the camera was aimed at the ground. As the clip ends, there was one last exchange, with a male voice demanding, “Give me the f—— tape.”
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org