VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – A dramatic scene unfolded in Virginia Beach Thursday afternoon, and the man who allegedly caused the chaos is in police custody.
Jason Thomas Smith, 34, has been charged with robbery, carjacking, malicious wounding, felony eluding and felony hit-and-run.
It all began around 3:18 p.m. with a carjacking at the Towne Bank in the 600 block of 22nd Street. According to MPO Tonya Borman, a woman was pulled from her vehicle at knife-point and assaulted by the suspect.
The suspect fled in the stolen vehicle on westbound I-264. Virginia Beach Police tried to stop the vehicle, but the driver kept going. The suspect exited the interstate on Independence Boulevard and crashed into a car at the corner of Market Street and Virginia Beach Boulevard in Virginia Beach Town Center.
Cameryn Richardson, a staff member at nearby PF Chang’s restaurant, was concerned about the safety of her customers.
“It’s just that he got so close to hitting, because someone has actually hit us before, we thought he was going to get to the door, and that was for us what was really scary,” Richardson said.
As the chase continued, a police cruiser crashed into a pole at Park Place and Virginia Beach Boulevard. The suspect continued into the Columbus Village parking lot and struck another vehicle, Borman said.
The suspect vehicle crossed over into the eastbound lanes of Virginia Beach Boulevard, where the suspect jumped out of the vehicle and started running. Responding officers caught up with him in the 4400 block of Virginia Beach Boulevard, which is in front of Princess Anne High School.
Police took the suspect into custody there. Witnesses say he tried to run, but then police used a stun gun.
“The guy got out the car, he ran, and then he got tased and hit the ground. He got tased and Bam! On the ground,” Jacob Marshall said.
Smith appeared in Virginia Beach Court Friday afternoon for an arraignment. He was appointed a public defender and declined to have a bond hearing without an attorney present. His bond hearing is scheduled for Wednesday at 8 a.m. and his preliminary hearing will be held on July 3.
10 On Your Side went back to the Towne Bank building on 22nd Street, where the carjacking happened. Runnymede Corporation owns and manages the building. President Andrew Fine said the incident would “create a serious discussion” about safety and security at the building.
He said security officers patrol the parking lot from November to April in the early evening, because it gets dark early. The carjacking happened during daylight, before security officers would have been on patrol, even during the winter months.
Donald Frederick, Vice President of Finance, said a police officer is always in the bank branch during banking hours, and that the officer was in the building while the carjacking happened outside.
Runnymede managers have not made any decisions about security changes.