A 22-year-old man was arrested early Wednesday morning after a high-speed chase from south of Orange Park that ended when the car crashed into a photo studio on Blanding Boulevard in Jacksonville.
According to the Clay County Sheriff's Office, a deputy saw a red Toyota Corolla driving suspiciously on Blanding Boulevard just north of Ridgecrest Avenue about 2 a.m. The deputy ran the license plate and found it was not assigned to that vehicle and the owner of the tag -- Terrell Bennett -- had a suspended driver's license.
When the deputy attempted to make a traffic stop, the car accelerated to 80 mph in a 45 mph zone and continued through several neighborhoods at high speeds and running stop signs.
There's only one way in and one way out of the subdivision, so the deputy parked at the entrance and went to get his stop sticks. The deputy said before he was able to get them, he saw the car trying to leave, and he grabbed his flashlight and tried to get the driver to stop. But he said instead of stopping, the driver crossed the street and tried to hit him, then took off.
"When that happened, we were bound and determined to try to stop him because he tried to kill one of our deputies. And so we decided to pursue him," said Lt. Chuck Wolf.
The Sheriff's Office says the car swerved into oncoming traffic and almost hit another deputy who had responded to assist, then almost hit another patrol car on Blanding Boulevard.
After reporting attempted assaults on law enforcement officers, a deputy was authorized to deploy stop sticks, which successfully flatted the car's right front tire.
The suspect continued north until losing control in the 1500 block of Blanding Boulevard, leaving the road and crashing into a photography studio, about 12 miles from where the chase began.
Bennett was arrested under the Cops Without Borders agreement with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office on charges of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, driving on a suspended license, reckless driving and fleeing/eluding an officer and running two red lights and two stop signs.
Bennett was not injured in the wreck and no deputies were hurt in the chase.
"It was just terrifying, and I was just so thankful, and you know, just praising God that it wasn't this house," said Angles Davis, who lives near the crash site.
"They can have an accident with somebody, another car, you never know what can happen to the people driving that fast in the area," resident Ramon Vargas said.
Jacksonville police are handling the crash investigation portion of the incident, which reportedly caused $50,000 in damage.
"Some damage to a building. Sometimes that's going to happen. But I'd much rather have a little property damage than somebody, a human being get hurt," Wolf said.