JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man is sought after leading police on a chase and crashing a stolen sport utility vehicle late Thursday morning on the city’s Westside, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
The pursuit started at the Walmart on Normandy Boulevard and ended about 5 miles away at the corner of Firestone and Wheat roads, just west of Interstate 295. That’s where police said a Honda CR-V -- which was involved in an armed carjacking last week -- crashed about 11 a.m. and the man driving the SUV ran off.
“He came down flying on Firestone and had to be doing an 80 or 90 mph and he just crashed into that electric pole right there,” said John Makhlouf, who owns a nearby food store. “They had their guns drawn when he was in the car and he came out of the car they told him to ‘freeze, freeze, freeze,’ and he just didn’t. He came out like this first and then he just took off running."
The Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Highway Patrol set up a wide perimeter in the area of Morse Avenue and I-295 as they searched for the driver. Police cruisers could also be seen lining the interstate and surrounding roads while the JSO helicopter flew above.
Police on scene told News4Jax the SUV that crashed was reported stolen after an armed carjacking eight days ago off Collins Road, which is why they spent several hours looking for the driver who is known to JSO.
The victim of the carjacking, a 21-year-old single mother of two, told News4Jax that she is still shaken and scared for her safety.
“I was walking to my apartment with both my kids in my arms and they put the gun to the back of my head and told me to give them my keys and took everything from me," she recounted. "I walked to my apartment to call the cops and he came back around, and when I looked up, I was dialing 911, he cocked the gun to my face and told me to give him my phone.”
The young mother said the SUV was her only form of transportation, and her stroller and car seats were no longer inside when she looked Thursday. The family has created a GoFundMe page to help with some of those expenses.
“Trying to get back on my feet and get a job again,” the 21-year-old said. “When I found out that they had my car, I was hoping I would get it back in one piece so I could drive from point A to point B and get my kids to their doctors’ appointments and do all the mom duties. I mean, everything I worked for, it was just taken for me in just a few seconds.”
During Thursday’s pursuit, according to JSO, the driver also crashed into a police car, a street sign and another vehicle. He had not been found as of early Thursday evening, but police said two women, who were inside the stolen SUV before the crash started, surrendered and were brought downtown to be questioned.