Kensington man charged with assaulting group on Capital Crescent Trail, as seen in video
Anthony Brennan III turned himself in Friday night; later apologized in a statement
Anthony Brennan III
Photo from Park Police
This story was updated at 11:50 p.m. June 5, 2020, to include a statement released by attorneys for Anthony Brennan III.
Maryland-National Capital Park police on Friday arrested a Kensington man who they say was the bicyclist who accosted a group of young people on Monday on the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda.
Anthony Brennan III, 60, was arrested and charged with three counts of second-degree assault, Park Police wrote in a press release on Friday evening.
The group Brennan is accused of accosting was putting up flyers about the death of George Floyd, the black man who died in Minneapolis after a white police officer pinned him to the ground with his knee for almost nine minutes.
A video posted to social media shows a male bicyclist accosting a young woman while another young woman screams at him to “get off of her.” The man then grabs his bike and rushes toward the young man who is filming. He then appears to fall to the ground.
Park Police wrote on Friday that detectives received hundreds of tips from the community over the last few days and used “various sources” to develop Brennan as a suspect. Police wrote that they got in touch with Brennan and his “legal counsel” earlier on Friday.
Brennan consented to have Park Police and the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s office search his home. Police then obtained and served an arrest warrant before Brennan turned himself in to police, the press release says.
Friday night, attorneys Andrew Jezic and David Moyse released a statement, in which they speak on Brennan’s behalf, then Brennan apologizes for what happened. It starts:
“Anthony Brennan recognizes that his outrageous behavior toward the young adult victims on the Crescent Trail was unacceptable and wrong.
“The outrage felt in our community and across our country is completely justified.
“Unfortunately, several innocent people were also victimized by having been erroneously identified online, and their reputations were tarnished.
“Mr. Brennan understands that his apology will not be enough to right his wrongs:”
Then, in a section in which comments from Brennan are quoted, it says:
“I am sick with remorse for the pain and fear I caused the victims on the trail, and online. 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.
“I am dedicated to working with the Montgomery County State Attorney’s Office to provide peace to our community and justice to the victims in the video, as well as to all victims of racism and police brutality.”
Park Police said that around 12:45 p.m. on Monday, three “young adults,” including one male and two females, were walking near the Dalecarlia Tunnel near the Brookmont area. The press release said a bicyclist started arguing with the three people, who were posting flyers.
In addition to Park Police, Maryland State Police, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh all became involved in the case.
The video has gone viral on social media, garnering about 27 million views as of 7:30 p.m. Friday. Multiple national media outlets have picked up the story, and various theories were floated as to who the bicyclist is.
Speculation first circulated on Twitter Thursday that the bicyclist was Peter Weinberg, a Bethesda resident and head of an investment firm.
Weinberg, on Friday, shared a report from Park Police that stated he had been ruled out as a suspect. He also wrote on social media that “I recently learned I have been misidentified in connection with a deeply disturbing attack. Please know this was not me. I have been in touch with the authorities and will continue to help any way possible.”
Later on Friday, Montgomery County police disputed rumors that the bicyclist was a former department employee.
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Chief David Huchler wrote in a tweet on Friday that there was speculation that the bicyclist is a former employee.
“This person has not worked for MWAA since August 2018,” he posted, directing all questions to park police.
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 news segment flashed to a sign reading “A man was lynched by the police. What are you doing about it”?
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.”
Floyd’s death has sparked numerous protests in cities across the country, including several in Montgomery County.
A 16-second version of the Capital Crescent Trail video was posted in the online community Reddit on Monday. The person who posted it wrote that two friends who were also there did not want the full version posted.
However, by Thursday, a 34-second version also was posted in Reddit and was circulating widely.
The longer clip starts with the bicyclist turning to walk away from one young woman as he focuses on the other and walks toward her. The first young woman yells, “Do not touch her! Do not touch her!” as a male voice says, “Leave her alone.”
As the man gets close to the second young woman, the first young woman screams, “She has nothing! Do not touch her, sir!” The male tells the man, “Walk away.”
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.
Within seconds, he grabs a bicycle and comes rushing at the young man who is 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.”
Dan Schere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org