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N.J. man charged after driving SUV toward crowd at iconic Washington Monument

Driver crashed into protective barrier, no pedestrians injured. Motive and charges unclear.

Updated: July 4, 2021 - 10:50pm

A New Jersey man was charged Sunday with assault after driving his SUV the night before toward people celebrating the Fourth of July outside the Washington Monument.

U.S. Park Police said Jack Joseph Dessin, 38, was arrested on charges of assault with a dangerous weapon and destruction of government property in connection with the harrowing incident Saturday evening.

Witnesses told a local TV station that the motorist drove onto the grounds of the iconic memorial, erratically creating some figure 8s before lurching toward bystanders. One women was whisked to safety, narrowly being struck.

"He was going down the walkway and people were running out of the way. And then he ran right into that wall, literally just missing somebody by I would say a foot," Nicholas Kline told NBC4 in Washington. "She wasn’t able to jump up. Somebody was dragging her, pulling her up." 

Another man pulled the driver from the car.  "He was like, 'The government is trying to kill me.' I'm like, 'The government is not trying to kill you. Lie down,'" Michael Vachon recounted to the TV station.

The collision happened around 7:30 p.m. Saturday on the northeast grounds of the Washington Monument, U.S. Park Police said. DC Police said his SUV managed to get within 500 feet of marble monument before crashing. No pedestrians were injured.

There was no immediate word on charges or motive.

The monument has been closed to the public since January but large crowds had gathered outside for the holiday.