A dump truck driver who allegedly rammed two police cruisers on purpose in Glenarden, Maryland, Wednesday has a history of mental illness and was not on his medication, Prince George's County police said.
Two police officers were standing next to their cruisers in the Woodmore Towne Centre parking lot when Gene Thomas Brandon Jr. pulled up and yelled at them through an open window, police said.
"As soon as he pulled up, he was real serious, he had a real serious demeanor, he had this serious look in his eyes," said Officer Rodney Lauchman. "He started making this accusation that we had killed his brother, or took his brother’s life. We tried to explain to him that we didn’t know what he was talking about."
The officers told him to move because he was blocking traffic.
“I said to him, 'You’re holding up traffic, sir. Have a nice day,'" said Officer Jeffrey Bragg. "And he said, 'We’re about to have a nice day.'"
Brandon pulled away, but he turned around in the parking lot and steered toward the officers. The officers ran out of the way and the dump truck struck the back of one cruiser, pushing it into the second one, police said.
“It’s by God’s grace that these two officers weren’t killed,” Chief Mark Magaw said.
The truck pushed one of the cruisers more than 50 feet, police said.
Brandon then got out of the truck and aggressively approached the officers, who took him into custody without injury to the officers or Brandon, police said.
Officer Lauchman said returning home later that night was emotional.
“I just went home and I just hugged my family," he said. "It made me want to just hug everybody at home really hard, to just let them know I’m home and I love them and that I’m going to always try to make it home.”
Brandon's mental state played a role in the crime, detectives said. The crime does not appear to be connected to any other incidents.
Brandon, 31, is charged with two counts of attempted murder and two counts of first-degree assault. He has a history of traffic citations.
The truck had the name Allstar Utility Company Inc. on its door. A person who answered the telephone at a company yard confirmed a crew was doing a job near the incident, the Associated Press reported. A message left for the company's owner was not immediately returned.