Arrest made in case of cyclist accused of assaulting teens posting fliers on a Maryland trail

A 60-year-old Maryland man was arrested on three counts of misdemeanor assault Friday night amid allegations he attacked three people who were trying to post anti-police brutality fliers along a bicycle trail in Bethesda.

Anthony Brennan, of Kensington, came across the trio – ages 18, 19 and 19 – while riding his bike Monday along the Capital Crescent Trail just before 1 p.m., authorities said.

One of the three recorded part of the ensuing encounter, which exploded across the Internet on Thursday as social media users spent two days trying to learn the man’s identity. Two men, including a retired police officer, were publicly named by Twitter users as the assailant – even though authorities would later say they had nothing to do with the incident.

Advertisement

It was not until after 9 p.m. Friday that police announced the arrest of, Brennan, shortly after he turned himself in at the Montgomery County Detention Center in Rockville. Based on the nature of the charges, he was expected to be released from custody on little or no bond.

Anthony Brennan. —Maryland-National Capital Park Police via AP

The three victims, police said, were walking along the trail near the Dalecarlia Tunnel, just outside the District of Columbia border.

“A man was lynched by the police. What are you going to do about it?” the fliers said according to Maryland-National Capital Park Police

The suspect, park police said, “began to argue about the fliers and forcibly grabbed the fliers from one of the victims. Before leaving the scene, the suspect pushed his bicycle toward the male victim and caused him to fall to the ground.”

On Tuesday, police released photos of the suspect. One of the victims also released video he took. Together, the images prompted citizens to send in hundreds of tips.

Investigators contacted Brennan on Friday, and received permission to search his home, police said. Evidence linking him to the crime, authorities said, were found inside.

“I am grateful for the support of the community in this unfortunate incident,” said Darryl McSwain, chief of the Montgomery County division of the Park Police. “I applaud the victims for their courage and civic engagement during a time in which it’s important for the community to come together.”

Advertisement

Brennan could not be immediately reached for comment.

The incident comes as mass demonstrations have filled the streets of American cities in an outcry over the death of George Floyd, the 46-year-old black man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police.

The 18-year-old who recorded the video provided a copy to The Washington Post. He discussed what happened on the condition of anonymity because of fears for his safety.

He said that he and two female friends were walking along the Capital Crescent Trail near the Dalecarlia Tunnel, close to MacArthur Boulevard.

The teenager said that in the last few weeks, he has worked with the #signofjustice project on Instagram and distributed about 500 fliers in his neighborhood.

“I wanted to inspire people to take action and show them what they can do,” the 18-year-old said.

He said he and his friends were headed toward Georgetown when the cyclist, also headed in that direction, passed them while holding his cellphone.

“That’s them there,” the man said, according to the 18-year-old. The teen said the man appeared to be recording them.

At the time, the 18-year-old said, he and his friends were putting one of their fliers on a telephone pole about eight feet from the path. The cyclist asked the teen if he could see the posters.

“I thought he was intrigued, and I was ready to have a conversation with him of what he could do to help,” the teen said. “As soon as I put out my hand to show him the poster, he aggressively ripped it out of my hand.”

Advertisement

The man then approached the two women.

That’s when the 18-year-old took out his phone, he said, and started recording. The cyclist got “in the face” of one of the women before he approached the other and “rips tape out of her hands.”

He said the tape was being used to hang the fliers.

The cyclist then grabbed his bike, ran it toward the 18-year-old and “tried to pin me into the ground with his bike,” the young man said.

He said he fell to the ground and stopped recording.

According to the 18-year-old, the cyclist got back on his bike, circled around the three and started yelling profanities.

“You guys are awful,” he allegedly yelled. “You’ll never amount to anything.”

He also said, according to the teen, that “we’re inciting riots.”

The teen said his leg was cut by the bike and that the man pushed him over and “held his bike to me.”

The teen said he didn’t know the man. “We weren’t in his way whatsoever,” he said.

The teen posted a clip of the altercation on Monday, the day of the incident. Three days later, he uploaded the full video, which then went viral on Reddit and bled into public outrage on Twitter, after it showed the man apparently grabbing one of the women to take the tape.

– – –

The Washington Post’s Teddy Amenabar contributed to this report.


Get Boston.com's e-mail alerts:

Sign up and receive coronavirus news and breaking updates, from our newsroom to your inbox.

Jump To Comments