Police are seeking a number of suspects after members of a crowd at a car meetup late Saturday in Laurel, Maryland, smashed and kicked a police car with an officer inside.
The Prince George’s County officer was not hurt as people kicked and jumped on his cruiser, the department said. A photo released Monday shows large dents in the sedan’s passenger side.
Chief Malik Aziz called the actions of the mob “completely unacceptable.”
“The behavior toward our officer on Saturday was criminal. Attacking a cruiser should not be a source of entertainment for anyone,” he said in a statement. “We take this seriously and we know the community does too. It’s completely unacceptable. The officer showed great restraint under these circumstances.”
State Sen. Pam Beidle, of Anne Arundel County, said she felt for the officer who was swarmed by a mob.
“I can't imagine what that police officer felt like to have all those people surrounding his vehicle. I mean, his heart must’ve stopped,” she said.
The department shared photos of several young men.
Police responded to large gatherings of cars and onlookers late Saturday in Laurel and Burtonsville, in neighboring Montgomery County.
In Laurel, footage posted to social media showed a chaotic scene near an office park off I-95. An officer tried to disperse the group of about 100 vehicles plus spectators at about 11:35 p.m., police said. The officer put on his lights and siren and slowly moved through the crowd.
“While attempting this, a large group encircled his cruiser and began to kick and vandalize it,” the statement from police said. One vandal was armed with a pole.
The crowd was eventually dispersed, leaving behind tire marks and beer cans. No one was immediately arrested.
In Burtonsvillle, a group of about 100 cars gathered at about 9:30 p.m. Over a police scanner, an official could be heard describing the scene.
“They’re taking up the entire intersection with about 100 vehicles out here,” he said.
Members of the group blocked streets, set off fireworks and left tire tracks.
Suspects could face charges including malicious destruction of property, disorderly conduct, and obstructing and hindering an officer, police said.
Anyone with information on the suspected vandals is asked to contact police. Tips can be left anonymously.
Calls for Stiffer Penalties for Car Meetups
Community activist Karen Coakley has championed state legislation calling for stiffer penalties for people who participate in car meetups and races.
“For me this is about public safety,” she said. “This is about life or death.”
Coakley said she testified before a state transportation committee but a bill sponsored by Beidle, who represents Anne Arundel County, never came to a vote.
The bill calling for fines, towing, muffle sound limits and possible imprisonment has been stuck in house committees. After News4’s story aired on Tuesday, a committee hearing for the bill was scheduled for Wednesday.
Beidle said she had her own encounters with car meetups.
“Two weeks ago I had 300 cars driving through my community, in four different parking lots. Police officers had to close the roads. I had eight police officers and two state troopers, and they could not get it under control,” she said.