Police look for ATV riders who created chaos at National Harbor

ATV riders cruise down a sidewalk between D.C. and National Harbor. (Provided to WTOP)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — On Sunday night, a group of riders on dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles brought chaos to National Harbor and parts of downtown D.C.

Prince George’s County police say around 100 riders took bikes that weren’t authorized to be on the streets and engaged in what is being called reckless behavior.

“This will not be tolerated; it is egregious and malicious behavior,” said Deputy Chief George Nichols.

Videos posted to social media showed the riders making their way out of downtown D.C. by passing in between cars on crowded highways — some are even seen doing wheelies. Once at National Harbor, many revved their engines as they wove around cars and drove on sidewalks while pedestrians hurried out of the way.

“Everybody who is down here has a right to be safe,” said Deputy Chief Chris Murtha, who oversees patrols in the National Harbor area.

Murtha said his officers engaged the riders, but none of them yielded to police, leaving officers no option but to try to usher them out of the area.

“We will not meet reckless behavior with our own reckless behavior,” Murtha said.

The police said they were using the many videos captured by security cameras at National Harbor to identify and find those responsible. They also are hoping people in the community will offer help.

“We need the public’s help to tell us who is riding these bikes,” Murtha said.

Area police departments have been struggling to deal with this kind of activity for years. Nichols said the warm temperatures usually produce a spike in these rides, and that many D.C.-area police departments see it as a priority.

“All of us collaborate together to form a union to make sure that we catch these individuals responsible,” said Nichols.

Both Nichols and Murtha said extra patrols will be out looking for this sort of activity, and that their department will not hesitate to use its helicopter to follow riders who escape officers on the ground with dangerous driving.

“They can’t outrun our helicopter,” Murtha said.

Murtha said many of the bikes used in these rides are stolen and even the ones which are not could still be seized by the police department.

“Don’t think you just got away with it; we will be knocking on your door and we will be coming to see you shortly,” Nichols said.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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