CHARLOTTE — Chopper 9 Skyzoom followed a two-hour high-speed police chase Wednesday, where a man drove recklessly through the Carolinas, hitting two other drivers. Authorities said the man also stole four vehicles during the pursuit.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s helicopter initially began following a vehicle after a break-in was reported just before 11 a.m. Authorities said a Jeep was stolen.
>> CMPD released a sequence of events during the high-speed chase through Charlotte Wednesday. Click through the timeline below.
Chopper 9 then spotted a white-colored pickup truck, that police said was also stolen, speeding and swerving on Interstate 77 near Clanton Road in south Charlotte just before noon.
A short time later, the truck went to a Walmart on South Tryon Street, where the driver jumped out and stole a gold-colored car in the parking lot. He left a women in the pick-up truck behind.
The woman who owned the car could be seen from Chopper 9 reaching to hold onto the passenger door before the suspect took off.
“They came around the corner in that pickup truck, he hopped out, hopped in my car, the girl’s car that was that,” the car owner said.
The car then headed north on South Boulevard, where it could be seen driving on a sidewalk, coming within feet of a person standing nearby.
After that, the car drove through an apartment complex’s parking lot in South End before the driver made his way to north Charlotte. Chopper 9 Skyzoom then spotted the car on Statesville Road approaching Interstate 85.
The driver then traveled along I-77 south, where the car could be seen speeding between lanes. The car then made its way back to South End, swerving between other drivers.
Chopper 9 Skyzoom was then over the car driving in uptown before the driver headed back to south Charlotte. Then, at around 12:45 p.m., the vehicle was seen traveling near Park and Johnston roads.
After that, just before 1 p.m., the driver headed down US 521 to Indian Land in South Carolina. Minutes later, the driver turned around and headed back to North Carolina.
Just after 1 p.m., the driver crashed into another vehicle at the intersection of Ballantyne Commons Parkway and Johnston Road. He tried to pull the person out of the other car, who could be seen clearly hurt with airbags deployed.
The suspect then started running toward other cars and eventually stole an SUV, and headed down Johnston Road. It was the fourth vehicle he stole Wednesday.
Chopper 9 saw police following the vehicle on Fairview Road near Colony Road. The driver was driving erratically and swerving around other vehicles.
A driver, Abrahan Nassar, rammed his pickup truck into the back of the stolen SUV to try and bring the chase to end. But Nassar’s engine started smoking from the impact and broke down in the road.
“I see the guy just cut through and almost hit a couple of cars … that’s when I was like, ‘You know what, I’m going to try to stop him,’” the pickup truck driver told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke.
Then just before 1:30 p.m., the driver made his way to East Boulevard in Dilworth.
Moments later, the vehicle collided into another SUV at the intersection of South and East boulevards. The driver could be seen jumping out and surrendering to police.
Several CMPD patrol SUVs then surrounded the intersection and took him into custody. Authorities have not said what charges the suspect will be facing.
A question some are asking is why police didn’t use the PIT maneuver, where they hit the back corner of the car to stop it. CMPD said it cannot use that maneuver per policy. State police can use it, but Channel 9 learned they were never asked to get involved in Wednesday’s chase.
Full statement from CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings:
“This is absolutely appalling that someone would have this much disregard for the general public. The CMPD pursuit policy prohibited us from chasing this suspect up until the point when the suspect carjacked the last vehicle, not knowing if an abduction had taken place. In these situations, police are in a no-win situation. While this subject poses a danger to the public, a police pursuit could have escalated that danger. Thank you to CMPD’s Aviation team and WSOC who assisted us with monitoring the situation from the sky. I am proud of our CMPD response in providing closure without serious injury.”
>> Watch the path Chopper 9 Skyzoom took while following the police chase through Charlotte below (Courtesy: FlightAware).
Channel 9 reached out to CMPD for more information on the charges the suspect will face, but we have not heard back at this point.
Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.
‘We have to weigh the options’: CMPD gives update following police chase
CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings gave an update Wednesday afternoon following an hourslong police chase.
Per policy, he said they do not pursue vehicles unless lives are in danger. He said that policy was followed precisely.
“The reason we have policies is to ensure everyone gets to go home. I know there will be questions about the length of time,” Jennings said.
He said that it is unusual to see someone continuing to drive erratically when patrol cars are taken out of the mix. He also added that stop sticks were used multiple times in an attempt to end the chase.
“We have to weigh the options and what is the most danger to the public. The last thing I want to do is have an officer behind a vehicle which causes that driving to escalate, and someone gets seriously hurt or killed,” Jennings said.
>> In the video below, watch the full CMPD news conference.
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