FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — A passenger in a vehicle that was fired upon outside the National Security Agency campus says the unlicensed teen driver made a wrong turn, panicked and hit the gas.
Passenger Javonte Alhajie Brown told The Washington Post Friday that the 17-year-old driver was following GPS directions to reach a friend's house in a Maryland suburb, but he turned onto a restricted-access road that leads to the top-secret installation.
"I woke up with him slapping me in the face screaming, 'I'm going the wrong way. I don't know how I got here,'" Brown said.
"I was screaming at him," Brown continued, "'How the hell did you do this? And why aren't you stopping?'"
Brown, 24, told the newspaper that he had been too tired to drive Wednesday morning and handed the keys of the rented black sport utility vehicle to his teenage friend. They were heading to Brown's brother's house from Washington, D.C. Another passenger, who has not been publicly identified, was also in the car.
Brown said he went to sleep. But he was jolted awake by police officers from the NSA shouting outside Fort Meade. Some of them banged on the vehicle's doors and windows.
Others pointed guns as the SUV kept moving. At least one officer fired, striking the windshield several times. The occupants weren't hit by bullets, but the driver was left with an apparent shrapnel injury.
Brown said he "grabbed the driver's head and shoved it under the steering wheel."
Brown said shots were fired right before the SUV hit a concrete barrier next to a visitor's gate.
The teen driver's mother, Sharron Brown, 37, was also interviewed by The Washington Post. She is not related to Javonte Brown.
She and Brown said the driver had a gash on the top of his head that might have come from a fragment or shrapnel. She asked the newspaper not to identify her son because he's a minor.
Authorities have not filed charges. The vehicle's three occupants were released from custody.
The FBI is investigating the shooting. It has confirmed that one of the theories it's considering is that the driver turned in error and panicked.
The FBI has not detailed the moments of the shooting or explained the police officer's decision to shoot.
Javonte Brown said he takes responsibility for handing the keys over to his friend. But he and the teen's mother questioned the use of force.
"They could see the driver was young and was panicking," Javonte Brown said. "They could see the passengers were clearly asleep. They could tell we were not a threat."