Prince George's County police treat I-495 crash as homicide Authorities say driver lost control of his car after shooting on beltway

September 07, 1998|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Though an autopsy has not revealed what killed a motorist Friday night on the Capital Beltway, Prince George's County police were treating the incident yesterday as a homicide, saying the man was shot shortly before crashing.

Police were awaiting autopsy results to confirm whether Charles Frederick Carson, 33, of Capitol Heights died from gunshot wounds or injuries he suffered in the accident.

Preliminary autopsy results Saturday listed the cause of death as "unknown," said an official at the state medical examiner's office.

Yesterday, police would say little about the investigation.

"Maybe it's investigators' prerogative not to release that information," said Cpl. Tim Estes, a Prince George's County police spokesman. "As far as I know, our investigators have not confirmed there was a shooting."

But a law enforcement source familiar with the incident said yesterday Carson was shot about a mile before he crashed.

Police said that Carson was driving his Acura north on Interstate 495 toward the Pennsylvania Avenue interchange about 5: 30 p.m. when witnesses heard gunshots.

Carson veered toward the right shoulder, accelerated and drove onto the off-ramp, police said. The car went through an exit sign, into a gully and struck a tree, police said.

"The crash stopped the car," the source said. "He was out of control. They're investigating this as a homicide, not a motor vehicle accident."

No witnesses saw the shooting, the source said, and police are investigating whether an old-model car was involved.

"The witnesses were hysterical," the source said. "They heard the gunshots and then a vehicle speed past, then another. There were just too many factors involved."

The source said police officers examined Carson at the scene and found evidence of gunshot wounds.

The source also downplayed initial reports of road rage sparking the shooting because no witnesses reported seeing aggressive or reckless driving before the gunshots were heard.

Pub Date: 9/07/98

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