A Prince George’s County elementary school teacher is accused of a series of attacks in a park in D.C. and along a trail in Alexandria.
Michael Thomas Pruden, of Fort Washington, was arrested and charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, U.S. Park Police said.
Officials say he shined a flashlight in victims’ eyes in D.C.’s Meridian Hill Park, also known as Malcolm X Park, claimed he was a police officer and showered victims with pepper spray. On Daingerfield Island in Virginia, he allegedly hit someone with a stick and pepper-sprayed him.
Pruden, 47, has worked for Prince George’s County Public Schools since 2014, including at Allenwood Elementary School in Camp Springs, Apple Grove Elementary School in Fort Washington, Samuel Chase Elementary School in Temple Hills and Valley View Elementary School in Oxon Hill, a school district spokesperson said. He was suspended.
Four attacks in Meridian Hill Park were reported, with the most recent taking place in March and the oldest in 2018, Park Police said.
On March 21, Pruden allegedly confronted two people walking on a wooded trail on Daingerfield Island, hit one of the people with a stick and then sprayed him with pepper spray.
Using descriptions by the victims, Pruden was identified as a suspect and arrested May 7. No information on a possible motive was released. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had an attorney.
Anyone who has information on the assaults or who may have been a victim is asked to call 202-610-8737 or email USPP_tipline@nps.gov. Tipsters may remain anonymous.