Authorities are trying to identify those in a group of 50 to 100 motorcycle and dirt bike riders who surrounded a Maryland state trooper in a marked SUV on Sunday afternoon on the Capital Beltway.
The incident occurred around 4 p.m. on the outer loop of the Beltway near Route 201 in Prince George’s County. The trooper, who was off duty at the time, was driving a marked Ford Explorer when the riders surrounded his vehicle.
“They surrounded him and slowed down,” said Greg Shipley, a spokesman for the Maryland State Police.
It caused the trooper to slow his speed as he called other troopers for help. When other troopers arrived, Shipley said, the riders left, with some of them going the wrong way on the Beltway.
The license plates of the motorcycles were either not visible or were deliberately hidden, he said.
The state police’s College Park barracks had received calls Sunday afternoon about “reckless operations” of motorcycles and dirt bikes on the Beltway near Interstate 95.
No one was injured, and the trooper’s vehicle was not damaged.
The troopers did not pursue the group, Shipley said, but “stops were attempted.”
“They dispersed immediately as the troopers approached the area,” he said.
Large groups of motorcyclists and dirt bike riders interrupting traffic on local roadways have been a problem in the Beltway and other roads. It is often hard for authorities to pursue motorcycles because they can speed through traffic.
Last year, a group on motorcycles, dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles swarmed streets in the District and on the Beltway while doing stunts and driving the wrong way, scaring other drivers.
Given the high level of risk in such pursuits, some departments — including D.C. police — have a policy not to chase bikers. Shipley said state police have a “pursuit policy” but go through a number of safety considerations before deciding to chase.
Authorities have pointed out the dangers of dirt bikes and police efforts to try to catch riders.
In May, a spectator was fatally struck by a dirt bike in Baltimore, and a man was killed in September when his dirt bike collided with a van. Last year, a 17-year-old was killed when a dirt bike he was riding hit a tree in the District during a chase involving Prince George’s County police. Officials had said at the time that the bike had been linked to an armed robbery.
State police said they are working with local police agencies to locate the group involved in Sunday’s incident but have no photos or video surveillance. Those involved could face traffic charges, he said.