CHARLOTTE — Chopper 9 Skyzoom followed a two-hour high-speed police chase on Wednesday, where a man drove recklessly through the Carolinas, hitting two other drivers. Authorities said the man also stole four vehicles during the chase.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department helicopter first began following a vehicle after a break-in was reported just before 11 a.m. Authorities said a Jeep was stolen.
Chopper 9 then spotted a white pickup truck, which police say was also stolen, speeding and swerving on Interstate 77 near Clanton Road in south Charlotte just before noon.
Shortly after, the truck drove into a Walmart on South Tryon Street, where the driver jumped out and stole a gold car from the parking lot. He left behind a woman in the van.
The woman who owned the car could be seen from Chopper 9 reaching out to hold the passenger door before the suspect took off.
“They came around the corner in this van, he jumped, jumped in my car, the girl’s car that was it,” the car owner said.
The car then headed north on South Boulevard, where it could be seen driving down a sidewalk, approaching within a few feet of a person standing nearby.
After that, the car drove through the parking lot of an apartment complex in the South End, before the driver headed north to 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 accelerating between lanes. The car then drove back to South End, swerving between other drivers.
Chopper 9 Skyzoom was then above the car driving through downtown, before the driver returned to south Charlotte. Then, at approximately 12:45 p.m., the vehicle was seen driving near Park Road and Johnston Road.
After that, just before 1 p.m., the driver headed on US 521 to Indian Land in South Carolina. A few minutes later, the driver turned around and drove back to North Carolina.
Just after 1 p.m., the driver collided with 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 injured with the airbags deployed.
The suspect then started running towards other cars and eventually stole an SUV and headed towards Johnston Road. It was the fourth vehicle he stole on Wednesday.
Chopper 9 saw police following the vehicle on Fairview Road near Colony Road. The driver was driving erratically and driving around other vehicles.
A van, whose driver was a civilian, was also rammed into the back of the suspect’s SUV to end the pursuit. But the truck started to smoke and stopped, according to Chopper 9 pilot Andy Holt.
“I see the guy just cut and almost hit a few cars…that’s when I was like, ‘You know what, I’m going to try and stop him,'” the driver said. the van at Action 9. Jason Stoogenke.
Then just before 1:30 p.m. the driver headed for East Boulevard in Dilworth.
Moments later, the vehicle collided with another SUV at the intersection of South and East Boulevards. The driver could be seen jumping off 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 face.
A question some have is why the police didn’t use the pit manoeuvre, where they hit the rear corner of the car to stop it. The CMPD said it could not use this maneuver as a matter of policy. State police can use it, but Channel 9 has learned it was never asked to get involved in Wednesday’s pursuit.
Full statement from CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings:
“It’s absolutely appalling that someone has such contempt for the general public. CMPD’s prosecution policy prohibited us from pursuing this suspect until such time as the suspect hijacked the last vehicle without knowing if there had been any kidnapping. In these situations, the police are in a no-win situation. Although this subject presents a danger to the public, a police pursuit could have aggravated this danger. Thanks to the CMPD Aviation team and the WSOC who assisted us to monitor the situation from the sky. I am proud of our CMPD’s response in ensuring a closure without serious injury.
>> Watch the path taken by Chopper 9 Skyzoom following the police chase through Charlotte below (Courtesy FlightAware)
Channel 9 has contacted CMPD for further information, but we have not heard back at this stage.
Come back with www.wsoctv.com for updates.
(WATCH BELOW: Chase leads to crash on Monroe Freeway, authorities say)
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