A Washington man accused of driving a van over a bystander outside a carryout in Beaver Heights, got a dose of frontier justice Tuesday night when he was pulled from the driver's seat by an angry crowd and "stomped on," Prince George's County Police reported yesterday.
"Boy, what a night! I was so excited I couldn't dial 911," said Jane Thomas, whose husband runs the T&T Carryout where a melee was touched off shortly after 7:30, apparently over the issue of what condiments would be garnishing a cheeseburger.
Before police restored the peace at the corner of Eastern Avenue and Olive Street, somebody had fired a gun, James L. Brown had been dragged 50 feet under a green van, and a crowd of about 30 people had administered chest and head lacerations to the driver 21 year-old Vincent Erwin Brown (no relation) of 4949 Aster Pl. SE.
James L. Brown, 45, of Beaver Heights, was taken to Prince George's Hospital where he was listed in stable condition with multiple injuries, including scrapes and severed tendons. Vincent Erwin Brown also was treated at Prince George's Hospital and then arrested by Prince George's police and charged with assault with intent to murder. He was released on $1,000 bond and faces a preliminary hearing March 12.
"It's an area known for plenty of action," remarked county police spokesman Sgt. Robert Law.
According to Jane Thomas, who was working at the time, the trouble began when Vincent Brown walked into T&T and ordered a 90-cent cheeseburger.
"The lady asked him what he wanted on it, and he said put anything on it," she said. "When she starts to cook the onions he said, "Don't put any poison on my sandwich. We don't put poison on anything. Then he started cussing. I never did see such a youngster I wanted to tell him to take his cheeseburger and go but it was still cooking."
Thomas finally ordered Vincent Brown to leave, and on his way out he slammed the screen door five times, she said, causing a commotion which attracted a crowd, including her husband, Trevor J. Thomas, owner and manager who has been selling barbecue ribs, fish and crab at T&T Carryout for 16 years.
According to police, Vincent Brown started up his green van and drove toward Tarver Thomas, allegedly plowing through a knot of bystanders in the process, and running over James L. Brown. "He backed up and ran over the victim again and dragged him 50 feet, Law said.
Then somebody fired a shot at the van. The shot went wide, but caused the driver to stop, whereupon he was pulled out of the driver's seat by the crowd and "stomped on a little bit," Law said.
People milled around for awhile after the police arrived and eventually dispersed. "We get a rough customer once in a while, but usually my husband can handle them." Jane Thomas said. "But I'll tell you that was a night. Thank goodness I don't have high blood pressure."