- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Prince George’s County man pulled a knife Saturday morning and attacked a Maryland state trooper who responded to his call for a traffic crash in what authorities think may have been a “suicide-by-cop” attempt.

James A. Howard, 54, of Hyattsville was hospitalized Saturday after the incident and faces criminal charges.

Police say that at about 6:30 a.m. they received a call from a man, later identified as Mr. Howard, who said he had been involved in a single-vehicle crash on the Inner Loop of Interstate 495, just prior to Interstate 295 on the southeast side of the Beltway and not far from the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

Trooper Byron Tribue, a 1½-year veteran state trooper, responded to the call.

Mr. Howard’s car had struck the guard rail, police said, and when the trooper arrived he noticed Mr. Howard already outside his car and walking toward him. Mr. Howard approached on the passenger side, and Trooper Tribue, while still seated in his car, asked Mr. Howard if he was injured.

As the trooper turned to get his hat from the back seat, Mr. Howard ran around to the driver’s side of the car, pulled what appeared to be a kitchen-type knife with a 7-inch blade and began attacking the trooper through the open window, police said.

The trooper was able to radio an emergency call and began fighting off the attack from his car seat.

A passing motorist stopped and jumped on Mr. Howard’s back, giving the trooper an opportunity to get out of the car. Other state troopers and county police officers arrived on the scene and subdued Mr. Howard. The motorist who intervened left without identifying himself.

The trooper was stabbed in the hand. He was treated and released from an area hospital.

Mr. Howard was under police guard Saturday at an area hospital where he was taken for an evaluation. Investigators said they think he may have initiated the attack in an attempt to get the trooper to use deadly force against him.