The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Longtime Metro bus driver killed in carjacking rampage

Armed carjackings that began in Prince George’s County on Sunday and led to a police chase into Washington left a man and two dogs dead, authorities said.

5 min

A longtime Metro bus driver who was waiting at a McDonald’s drive-through in Prince George’s County was fatally shot Sunday afternoon — killed in a rampage of armed carjackings that authorities said also left a woman injured and two dogs dead.

Daeyon Ross, a 22-year-old from D.C., is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Kurt Modeste. Modeste, a 56-year-old from La Plata, Md., had been with Metro for 24 years, according to Metro spokesperson Sherri Ly, and was not on a shift at the time of his killing.

His wife, Pamela Modeste, reached by phone Monday, said she was not ready to discuss the death of her husband.

The attacks came as the D.C. region continues to struggle with surging carjackings. In June, D.C. police reported 140 carjacking incidents — the highest number in a single month in at least five years.

Ross is facing charges of first-degree murder, carjacking and aggravated animal cruelty, among others. He was previously convicted of robbing people at knifepoint on a Metro train, court records show.

The carjackings began just after noon Sunday in Prince George’s County and ended with a police shootout in the District, where Ross was arrested.

He appeared in D.C. Superior Court on Monday wearing a white plastic prison jumpsuit, which indicates authorities confiscated his clothes to search for DNA and other evidence. Ross’s attorney Claudine Harrison entered a plea of “not guilty” to the most recent armed carjacking and gun charges.

Magistrate Judge Judith Pipe ordered him held until his preliminary hearing Thursday.

After the hearing, Ross turned around and yelled “I love you” to about five family members.

D.C.-area carjackings have soared. Here’s where they’re happening.

Authorities said the Sunday incidents were spotted by a D.C. police helicopter, which communicated with police on the ground. That started when the helicopter saw a black BMW speeding down East Capitol Street SE and followed as the car crossed into Maryland, according to charging documents filed in Prince George’s County District Court.

According to the charging documents, the first carjacking occurred in Capitol Heights after Ross crashed the BMW into another car and two people pulled over in their Honda CR-V to help treat the crash victims. Ross approached the Honda, lifted his shirt to reveal a firearm and sped away in the vehicle before the woman in the passenger seat had fully exited, according to the charging documents. She fell out of the car and suffered injuries that required hospital treatment.

Ross, at that point in the Honda, then drove about two miles before crashing into another vehicle near the McDonald’s on Ritchie Road, according to Prince George’s County police. Now on foot, police said, he ran into the McDonald’s parking lot and approached Modeste, who was sitting in a car in the drive-though lane of the restaurant.

Police said Ross then shot Modeste multiple times, killing him.

Still on foot in the McDonald’s drive-though lane, Ross approached another car that had two people, their dog and two puppies inside, authorities said. They said he flashed his handgun, and the people exited the car. Their dogs in the back seat tried to get out of the car too, according to charging documents, but Ross shot one of them, closed the door and sped off.

He then killed a second dog, according to charging documents.

By that point Ross was being trailed by police, and he pulled over near the intersection of 52nd Street and Sheriff Road in Northeast Washington, authorities said. He flashed his gun and carjacked a third vehicle, with three women inside, but crashed after attempting to flee, according to charging documents.

As police officers approached the vehicle, there was an exchange of gunfire between Ross and a Capitol Heights police officers, police said. No one was wounded in that exchange.

According to court papers filed in the District, Ross had opened the driver’s door and fired at an officer, who took cover. The documents say another officer returned fire.

In an interview with police, Ross said he had a “mental health problem” and that he did not remember why he shot at the man at McDonald’s, according to court documents. He also said “he was mad that the police did not kill him because he did not want to be in jail.”

Police recovered a semiautomatic handgun and 15 rounds of ammunition, according to charging documents.

“I’ve done this job for a very long time, and it is extremely rare to come across an individual who has such a disregard for life,” Prince George’s County acting deputy chief Zachary O’Lare said at a Sunday news conference.

Authorities in D.C. and Prince George’s County in recent years launched a task force specifically tailored to address cross-border carjackings. In the District, most carjackings occur in Wards 5, 7 and 8, which share a border with Prince George’s County, according to a Washington Post data analysis. Police have said those carjackings often involve perpetrators crisscrossing the state border.

Still, since that launch, carjacking incidents in the region have continued to climb. In 2023, D.C. has already recorded 464 carjacking incidents, a 93 percent increase from the same time last year; and Prince George’s County has reported 229 incidents, a 10 percent increase relative to 2022.

In the D.C. region, carjackings have surpassed the previous year’s total each year since 2018.

Justin George contributed to this report.