An unidentified, violent, out-of-control man was apprehended by police after a lengthy police chase which included the man hitting six vehicles, including three state police cars on I-91 in the New Haven area, police said.
The incident unfolded early Monday when the man's sister phone New Haven police to report he was "out of control," and "needed hospitalization," said New Haven Police Officer David Hartman.
Officers Thomas Blaisdell and Caitlin Zarella spoke with the man’s roommates at their University Place apartment. They said they last saw him a day ago, adding he appeared agitated and disheveled. They didn’t know where he was.
The man’s sister, who lives in New York in Harriman in Orange County, said she was surprised he’d arrived unannounced at her home on Sunday. She said he had been diagnosed with manic depression, is bipolar and suffers from extreme anxiety.
The sister told police he started yelling about the devil. He spoke about killing people and said he was God. She said he admitted he’d stopped taking prescribed medicines. He told her he hadn’t slept in days. She said his lips were cracked and he appeared dehydrated.
The man’s sister said there was a woman in the car. Before leaving with this woman, she said he threw “Holy Water” on her car and smashed the windows with a rock. She said the two then took off.
The car, a black Honda Civic, had Texas plates. She phoned the New York State Police and told them she thought he’d likely head back to New Haven. She was right, Hartman said.
Hours later, Officer Brendan Canning had been dispatched to a robbery complaint at Walgreens on Whalley Avenue.
A 29-year old Northford woman said she was approached by the man, who punched her in the face and took the wallet from her hand. A witness said the man was yelling, “White Devil” over and over. They told Canning the man fled from the store, got behind the wheel of a black Honda Civic and took off.
Both victim and witness described the man as a dark complexioned black man, about 5-foot-9, thin and in his mid-20. They said he sported a “ragged” looking beard.
As detectives arrived, a theft on Central Avenue was reported. A short time after that, a vandalism complaint came in from some people on Sherman Avenue. The descriptions given by the complainants were very similar to that of the Walgreens crook – and spot-on for the emotionally disturbed person who’d visited his sister in Harriman, Hartman said.
Monday evening’s patrol Shift Commander Lt. Stephan Torquati put together an impromptu task force to find this guy before he did any more harm, Hartman said.
The task force checked the areas of the city frequented by the man as well as any past known addresses.
Officers were able to acquire the phone number of another of the man’s sister's. Moments after she told him she appreciated the call but hadn’t seen him, she called the officer back in a panic. She said her brother was at his girlfriend’s Dover Street home and it “didn’t sound good”.
As officers raced there, the girlfriend’s brother got on the phone with police as he followed the crazed man.
Dispatchers radioed the cops he was last seen passing the McDonalds on Foxon Boulevard. Officer Ameer Williams spotted the car in traffic. Another officer got behind the wanted man. He made a quick U-turn and the pursuit was on.
Oddly, as much as it was evident the man was trying to elude the increasing number of officers, he drove mainly below the speed limit, Hartman said. Disregarding the cruisers’ warning lights and siren, the man turned north onto Middletown Avenue and then on to I-91, north.
At about 45 miles per hour, the man continued until exit nine. He got off, then back on till Exit 12. He looped around and headed back the way he came, toward New Haven.
The man then “slammed on the brakes” and made another U-turn – this time heading against traffic. The officers didn’t follow him but observed him as he drove without regard for the safety of other motorists.
The man made it back to Route 34. State Troopers were covering the exits. Stop-sticks weren’t effective. Attempts to box him in were futile, as he slammed into three state police vehicles, as well as three civilian vehicles, the state police said.
Eventually, the 30-year-old man got bogged down in jammed traffic around exit 2 from I-91 south. Officers were then able to remove the man from his vehicle and take him into custody.
The investigation, which is still ongoing, was recorded on the perp’s phone. Cops took a look and are submitting the content as evidence, Hartman said.
To date he has been charged with assault in the first degree, reckless endangerment, interfering with police, engaging police in pursuit and criminal mischief second degree.
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