VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Authorities continue to search for a driver they say led state police on a wild chase before smashing into several vehicles at a shopping center and fleeing the scene on foot.
A Virginia State Trooper attempted to pull over a silver Honda Sunday afternoon around 4:40 p.m. for having altered license plates. The Honda hit the Trooper’s vehicle then sped away. Sgt. Michelle Anaya told WAVY.com the Trooper never got out of his vehicle. The Trooper began to chase the driver along Pacific Avenue and then down Shore Drive, but the driver got away.
Moments later, authorities found the Honda lodged between bushes at a strip mall parking lot, just west of Lesner Bridge. Police said the Honda hit two other vehicles, a fence and a jet ski trailer.
WAVY News 10 obtained this surveillance video from Joe Johnson, a manager at Froggies Cantina By The Bay on Shore Drive. It shows the moment the suspect crashed.
10 On Your Side’s Liz Palka talked to a witness who said she was leaving a consignment store when the suspect came over the curb and pummeled several parked cars. She was just about to get into her white Toyota Camry.
“When he hopped the curb, at first I thought, ‘OK. He’s going to stop, he’s going to stop, he’s going to stop,'” Meredith Reid said. “Then I was like, ‘OK, you’re not going to stop.'”
After wrecking the vehicle, police said the man jumped out of the driver’s seat and fled. The witness saw him take off toward the beach.
“I was just panicking because I thought, ‘Oh my God, this person – they’re probably dead,'” Reid continued. “And he got out of the car and just took off running.”
With the help of Virginia Beach Police K-9 units, state police searched for the suspect throughout the Ocean Park neighborhood.
The suspect showed up next door to Cameron Drude, who lives a mile away in Aeries on the Bay: “He was hiding back where the kids’ playground is next door. He was there to stay out of site, and the cops were in the neighborhood. The neighbor saw him because her kids play out there.”
Drude lives next door to Joleen Bakel, who said she saw the suspect running towards her. She had come out of her home with her children because she heard the police helicopter above.
“As we were standing on our deck watching the helicopter, there was a man who came running very fast towards my house,” Bakel said. “I didn’t think anything of it until he crossed over my lawn and ran down the middle of my lawn and my neighbor’s house. And then I realized at that point he may be the person, so I ran in my house and told my husband, and I took my kids, and went in the bathroom, and locked the door because I didn’t know what was going on at that point.”
Bakel’s husband saw the suspect crouched down by the swing set. He went to call 911, but when he returned the man had taken off. Joleen thinks he ran across the street, down a grassy area to a path in the back of home across the street. It’s believed he ran along the back side, coming out along a path. He then made his way to the beach, blended in, and escaped in the crowd.
“I saw him running, he had no shirt on, he was wearing khaki cargo shorts, boxers hanging out of the shorts, he was carrying a shirt. He was white, with brown hair, and that’s all I saw,” Bakel said.
10 On Your Side was told there was no reverse 911 call made to nearby residents because the suspect was not considered a risk to the community.
“There was no immediate danger to the community, [because the guy wasn’t armed,] said Lt. Reo Hatfield, an executive aide to Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera.
Hatfield also said VBPD officers did not participate in the pursuit because it did not meet the department’s guidelines, which would include the suspect’s offense being a felony.
The suspect has not been found.