- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 26, 2002

Two male deer yesterday jumped through the window of a McDonald's in Northeast and ran frantically through the fast-food restaurant amid startled patrons and staff.

One deer eventually found his way out of the building but both were euthanized by animal control officers because of their injuries.

One deer suffered fatal injuries as it ran through the crowded restaurant while employees were preparing Big Macs and Quarter Pounders for the afternoon lunch hour, according to witnesses.

Four female patrons suffered minor injuries, mostly scrapes from flying debris, said Alan Etter, a spokesman for the D.C. fire department.

"We have never seen anything like this ever in this area. We just worked to make sure everyone got out of the restuarant as soon as possible," said Officer Tie Hardy, the first police officer on the scene at New York Avenue and First Street NE.

"This was an unusual incident that obviously startled all of us," said William Edwards, operator of the McDonald's, in a written statement released late yesterday afternoon.

The second deer escaped out the window and led police and animal control officials on a chase through the park across the street, under the Metro bridge and eventually to an abandoned lot next to a Burger King on Florida Avenue, where he, too, was euthanized as a result of his injuries.

"I saw him run under the bridge and then behind the parking lot where he was hiding under the bushes. Then they shot him," said Lorenzo Brooks, 42, who was sitting in his car at Burger King waiting for his mother to get her lunch.

Those who live and work near the busy intersection were shocked to see two deer running around major D.C. streets. And even more surprised they were searching for fast food.

"I never did think they would get this far down into the city," said Donnell Williams, 51, who lives nearby.

No one knows where the deer came from or how they managed to get so far into the city.

Ronnie Williams, no relation to Donnell Williams, said the deer were just wandering around in an area that used to be theirs before the developers came in.

"They did not break into the McDonald's. McDonald's broke into their neighborhood," said Mr. Williams, 49, who has lived in the area for most of his life and walked up to see what all the commotion was about. "They used to have woods here, but they came and cleared out all the woods to build the [new Red Line station on New York Avenue] Metro station and other buildings."

Some onlookers said seeing a deer running between the two competing fast food restaurants downtown was exactly what the region needed as it recovered from the shock of the sniper attacks that have terrorized the area in recent weeks.

"This is a good thing I guess for us to be focusing on, in light of everything else. You really never know what you are going to see here," said John Stepney of Columbia, Md., as he waited for his wife, who was interviewing for a job in the building across the street.

Where the deer came from remains a mystery.

"There are no really heavily wooded areas" nearby, said Peggy Keller, chief of animal disease prevention with the D.C. Department of Health, of the area about 1½ miles north of the U.S. Capitol. "But the area where one deer was [found] was fully able to support them, there was lots of vegetation, there was water."

Both appeared "very, very healthy," she said.

Crews scoured the field to determine whether there were any other deer, but none was found.

Miss Keller said that while the District is an urban area, animal control usually handles about 10 calls a year for deer.

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