Three teenagers were wounded early yesterday after a motorist on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in Greenbelt with whom they had engaged in a "game of cat and mouse" opened fire on the car in which the youths were riding, U.S. Park Police said.
"It looks like a good case of road rage," said Sgt. Robert MacLean, a Park Police spokesman. "Both the suspect and the driver of the [teenagers' car] were at fault for playing this little game."
It was the fourth highway shooting -- one of them fatal -- in the Greenbelt and Cheverly areas of Prince George's County in the last two months, all occurring in the early morning between midnight and 3. None of the teenagers shot yesterday received life-threatening injuries, authorities said.
Officials said there was no evidence that the attacks were related or that any of the targets had been chosen at random. Investigators said the three earlier shootings were the result of squabbles that had broken out at nightclubs in the District. There have been no arrests in any of the shootings.
The latest incident occurred shortly after midnight when a Ford Bronco carrying five students from Laurel High School pulled onto the parkway in Greenbelt and encountered a maroon Ford Taurus that was moving erratically and weaving between lanes, police said. The students, all of them 17 years old, had just left a graduation party in advance of Laurel High School's commencement, which was held yesterday.
Although police are unclear what happened next, the two vehicles were soon engaged in a "game of cat and mouse" on a two-mile stretch of the parkway between Greenbelt Road and Powder Mill Road, MacLean said.
It ended when the driver of the Taurus pulled alongside the Bronco, yelled insults and obscenities and began shooting, MacLean said. The gunman fired six rounds into the Bronco, injuring three male passengers who were sitting in the back seat, he said.
One of the passengers was shot in the chest, and another was shot in the cheek. Both were taken to Laurel Regional Hospital, where they were listed in stable condition yesterday with non-life-threatening injuries, police said. The third passenger was struck by a bullet in the elbow, police said, and was treated at the hospital and released.
The 17-year-old male driver of the Bronco and a 17-year-old female passenger who was sitting in the front seat were not injured, police said.
Police said they were still looking for the suspect. They asked that anyone who may have witnessed the shooting call U.S. Park Police at 202-690-5080.
The attack came after three drive-by shootings in April in Prince George's County.
On April 30, three men in their twenties who had just left a District nightclub were wounded about 2:30 a.m. when a passing car on Route 50 in Cheverly sprayed their 1999 Chevrolet Monte Carlo with bullets, police said. Two of the men were shot in the shoulder; the third was struck in the legs by a single bullet.
The men were not able to identify the car from which the shots were fired. Nor did they know how many people were riding in the vehicle, police said. The attack remains under investigation, Prince George's police said yesterday.
Two weeks earlier, about 3 a.m. on April 15, two women were wounded in a similar shooting, also on Route 50 in Cheverly near the Kenilworth Avenue exit, police said. In that case, a gunman in an older-model Cadillac opened fire on the two women, both in their twenties, who were in a Nissan Maxima and who had recently left another nightclub in the District.
Police said the gunman also fired at a third person: a man in his twenties who was a friend of the two women and who was following them closely in a Volvo. The man was not injured, although his car was struck by bullets, police said.
Prince George's police spokesman Matt Meterko said yesterday that the man in the Volvo had quarreled with the alleged gunman earlier in the evening but has refused to identify the suspect for investigators. "We have a victim who knows the suspect but is unwilling to cooperate," he said.
Greenbelt police are still investigating a highway shooting that occurred April 10 on the Capital Beltway.
Truong Duc Le, 21, of Takoma Park, was driving on the outer loop of the Beltway near Greenbelt about 3 a.m. when he was fatally struck by gunfire from a passing car, police said. A passenger in Le's car was treated for minor injuries.
As in the other cases, Le and his passenger had recently left a District nightclub, police said.