Bystanders Injured in Melee Between Md. Gangs

By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 25, 2006

Three Alexandria residents were injured last week in Wheaton after being caught in the middle of a melee between two gangs, Montgomery County police said.

A 50-year-old man, his 47-year-old wife and their 24-year-old son were walking into a Wachovia Bank at 2800 West University Blvd. on Feb. 17 as a simmering feud between gangs from Wheaton and Takoma Park erupted.

"One gang was running from the other when they ran across this innocent family," said Lt. Eric Burnett, a police spokesman. "This was very unusual. It's the first time I can think of that innocent people were injured. It was not directed toward them."

The woman was knocked down as the group of roughly 30 alleged gang members tried to make their way into a Nextel store adjacent to the bank, police said. When her son and husband intervened, they were struck with metal batons and chairs, police said.

The Alexandria residents, who were not identified, were treated for injuries that were not life-threatening and are cooperating with police. A 15-year-old male from Silver Spring was taken into custody shortly after the fight. He was charged as a juvenile with first- and second-degree assault.

Police ask anyone who witnessed the fight or knows about it to call them at 240-773-5530.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company