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Hatfill ticketed in altercation with FBI agent

'Person of interest' in anthrax probe hit by car, fined $5

From Kelli Arena
CNN Washington Bureau

Steven Hatfill has denied involvement in the anthrax attacks of 2001 and has said he is planning several lawsuits.
Steven Hatfill has denied involvement in the anthrax attacks of 2001 and has said he is planning several lawsuits.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Steven Hatfill, under FBI surveillance in the anthrax investigation, was issued a ticket after an altercation this weekend with an agent, officials said.

According to a traffic incident report filed by Washington police, Hatfill walked up to a parked car to take a picture of the driver. The driver then drove off, striking Hatfill, the report said.

Officials tell CNN the driver was an FBI employee.

Hatfill, a former U.S. Army researcher, has been called a "person of interest" by Attorney General John Ashcroft in the investigation of the anthrax mailings that killed five people in 2001. Hatfill has denied involvement.

CNN obtained a copy of the police report that said Hatfill told officers the driver was recording his movements all day when Hatfill decided to "take a picture back."

Hatfill told officers he walked up to the automobile with the camera to take the picture when the driver drove off and ran over Hatfill's right foot. The report states that Hatfill refused medical treatment at the scene and that after investigation, Hatfill was issued a citation for "walking to create a hazard" and fined $5.

The driver was not cited.

Pat Clawson, a spokesman for Hatfill, said Hatfill and his girlfriend had been driving in the Georgetown area of Washington while being followed by several vehicles they believed contained FBI agents.

Clawson said one of the vehicles was "being driven in an aggressive manner," tailgating Hatfill.

According to Clawson, after the car was parked, Hatfill took out a still camera and wanted to admonish the driver for reckless driving. The FBI agent started recording the scene with a video camera. The FBI vehicle then hit Hatfill, Clawson said.

Despite what the police said, Clawson said Hatfill was treated at the scene by paramedics for a head abrasion and a severely bruised foot but declined to go to the hospital.

The FBI issued a statement saying: "We are aware of an incident that occurred on Saturday May 17th, 2003 in the 1800 block of Wisconsin Ave. N.W. Washington, D.C. at approximately 4 p.m. between Mr. Steven Hatfill and an FBI employee. During the incident Mr. Hatfill fell to the ground on Wisconsin Ave. Officers of the Washington MPD responded to the incident. Mr. Hatfill refused medical treatment and left the scene after he was issued a notice of infraction of 'walking to create a hazard.'"

"This is harassment, not surveillance," Clawson said. "This is in-your-face harassment."

Earlier this month, officials in Frederick, Maryland, said the FBI might drain a pond where suspicious items were found during previous searches.

When agents initially searched the pond in December, investigators found lab equipment, including what was described as a large plastic tub with two holes on the side, similar to something used to limit exposure while performing scientific tests, government sources said.

The discovery prompted agents from the FBI and other law enforcement bodies to return to the pond at least four times, looking for more evidence possibly linked to the attacks.

Sources said investigators were initially led to the pond after getting a tip that someone had been seen in the park dumping something in the pond.

However, officials say they have no evidence connecting anything found in the park to anthrax or the anthrax attacks. They also say there is no evidence linking any individual to the anthrax-laced letters, which fatally infected five people who inhaled anthrax spores in fall 2001.

Hatfill once worked at the U.S. Army bioweapons laboratory at Fort Detrick, which is near the pond.

Hatfill has steadfastly maintained that he had no involvement in the attacks.

Clawson has repeatedly denounced the FBI for what he called a "campaign of systemic leaks" that has been destroying Hatfill's life.

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