Crime - Sacto 911

West Sacramento teacher to be arraigned Tuesday in weekend road-rage incident

A West Sacramento teacher is to be arraigned Tuesday on felony charges after police said he struck three bicyclists with his vehicle during a road-rage incident Saturday night in midtown Sacramento.

Wesley Cuong Tran remained in Sacramento County jail Monday, accused of driving under the influence and assault with a deadly weapon.

According to the Sacramento Police Department, an officer spotted Tran’s vehicle speeding south, in the wrong direction, on 21st Street near L Street about 11 p.m. The car then turned west on L Street and apparently tried to go south on 20th Street when it hit two bicyclists, injuring one of them.

The officer learned that Tran had an argument with another bicyclist earlier in the evening and that Tran said the bicyclist punctured a tire on his vehicle. After Tran changed the tire, police said he looked for the bicyclist, found him and intentionally hit him with his car.

Tran refused an interview with The Bee on Monday. In a video interview with TV station KOVR 13 on Sunday, he said, “I was just trying to get somewhere, and I get my car busted and my tire slashed.”

He said two people harassed him as he was changing the tire. The encounter began as a “little bit of road rage” and escalated, he said.

Tran is a teacher at the Washington Unified School District’s Yolo Education Center in West Sacramento, an official at the school confirmed Monday. The center offers alternative education programs.

The bicyclist involved in the initial encounter suffered a head injury, police said, and one of the other two bicyclists had a minor injury. The third was not hurt. The bicyclists were not identified.

Sacramento police spokeswoman Officer Michele Gigante said the incident remained under investigation Monday. Gigante said she did not know whether any charges would be filed against the bicyclist who Tran said damaged his tire.

The confrontation occurred during midtown Sacramento’s Second Saturday event, which draws a large number of bicyclists, said Jim Brown, executive director of Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates.

Brown said he had seen Facebook posts about the incident. The confrontation, he said, seemed to have more to do with someone being impaired than with bicycling or driving.

When bicyclists or motorists who have been drinking encounter each other late at night, “everybody meets each other under the worst possible circumstances,” he said.

Such situations are compounded by a road system that doesn’t completely separate bikes from cars, and if either bicyclists or motorists aren’t abiding by the rules of the road, tempers can boil over, he said.

“I think I’m a competent bicyclist,” Brown said, “but late Saturday nights, I try not to go out on my bike.”

Brown said he didn’t want to discourage bicyclists from being on the road and stressed that some people depend on bicycles for transportation. A restaurant worker, for example, may have to bicycle on city streets late at night.

Regardless of who played a role in the escalation of events Saturday night, Brown said, each party is responsible for his part and for the motorist, that means not harming people with his car.

“No one is entitled to use a 3,000-pound vehicle to inflict vigilante justice,” Brown said.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee