19 October 2011

CRASH SMASH! - Suspects Fleeing Police Collide With Nearly Dozen Vehicles

Car driven by suspects fleeing Baltimore Police (red one in rear) comes to stop after wedging into parked cars on Gwynns Falls Pkwy, near N. Rosedale St.
Story, photos & video by A.F. James MacArthur

A loud crash, resembling an explosion according to witnesses, woke up residents living along Gwynns Falls Pkwy. in North Baltimore late Tuesday night.  Two suspects being chased by the Baltimore Police Department crashed a red Ford Thunderbird, with expired Virginia temporary tags, into a pair of parked cars, ending the chase in the residential neighborhood.

It's unclear why the suspects were being pursued by police and where the chase originated.  Baltimore Police have not yet responded to inquiries placed by The Baltimore Spectator seeking information on the late night chaos and commotion.

Car fleeing police displaying expired Virginia temporary tags.
After the crash, the two male suspects miraculously seemed to not sustain serious injuries and fled on foot. One was captured a short time after, while Fox Trot, the police department's helicopter unit, assisted in a search of the area for the second suspect.  The captured suspect could be heard loudly arguing, using  profanity, telling police "I wasn't the driver..I need and [expletive] ambulance."

A police officer promptly retorted "it doesn't matter, you guys crashed into 10 cars tonight, and you're gonna be responsible for all that."  Apparently referring to vehicles located elsewhere in the path of the pursuit.  It is not clear whether the other vehicles were occupied, where they were located, or if their owners were notified of the cause of the damage.

Rhonda Gantt (seen in the video below) and a companion driving in a Dodge Durango, were struck by the fleeing suspects, moments before the chase ended, as their SUV cleared the intersection of Gwynns Falls Pkwy while travelling south on N. Rosedale St.  Ms.Gantt said she did not see any lights illuminated on the suspects car, nor emergency lights or hearing a siren on the police cars giving chase.

Airbags deployed in car driven by suspects fleeing police.
While police officers searched the car, a steadily growing crowd of residents began to emerge from their homes surveying the scene.  Several owners of damaged vehicles lamented upon realizing they were suddenly out of transportation.  One woman, wishing not to be identified; the owner of a green Honda Civic, she endearingly said was named "Harry," was concerned about how she would get to work in the morning.

Saying that she could probably figure out short term temporary arrangements, the Honda's owner told The Baltimore Spectator, her larger concern was the car being covered only by liability insurance, and being her only form of transportation to get to and from work, was worried about who would cover the costs.

The Baltimore Police Department has stated on numerous occasions, officers are not allowed to engage in high speed pursuits unless given express permission by superiors, and then, only under very extreme and unique circumstances.  This has not however prevented serious property damage, injury and even death as a result of police chases in the city.  It is not clear whether the officers last night, were authorized to engage in a high speed pursuit with the suspects.  

In July of 2010, Officer Timothy Beall, ignored orders off superiors to break of a chase involving a motorcycle. The chase ended outside his jurisdiction, when the motorcyclist was struck by the police car driven by Officer Beall in Baltimore County, causing the death of the fleeing motorcyclist.  Officer Beall was suspended for his actions.

Officer Beall was also involved in an officer involved shooting, that left a suspect dead, when he mortally wounded a man accused of pointing a rifle at him in 2009.



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