A caravan of several law enforcement vehicles chased a fleeing suspect through downtown New Albany on Bankhead Street Saturday evening, at speeds of nearly 100 mph. It was actually the second of two high speed police chases in New Albany Saturday night.
There were numerous pedestrians in the block of Bankhead between the river bridge and the Tanglefoot Plaza when one of the dangerous chases roared through town shortly before 10 PM. Restaurant workers, their customers and others downtown enjoying a late spring evening had to quickly get out of the way as New Albany Police (NAPD), Union County deputies (UCSO) and Mississippi Highway Patrol (MHP) cars, their sirens wailing and blue lights flashing, chased a suspect who was driving “a small, older model red car.”
The chase that ran through downtown New Albany started in Ashland, MS in Benton County. It is believed to have started shortly shortly after 9PM, when an Ashland Police Department (APD) officer tried to stop the little red car for reasons not yet known to NAnewsweb.com.
The suspect struck and damaged the APD vehicle before racing south from Ashland on State Highway 5.
Another APD police cruiser and units of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO), chased the red car down the narrow, crooked state highway toward Hickory Flat. The MHP cars joined the chase. Law enforcement officers spread a “tack strip” across the highway, which was intended to puncture the tires and, thus, disable the car they were chasing.
The miscreant managed to steer around the tack strip and continued to roar through the night toward Hickory Flat. However, a Benton County Deputy’s car ran over the tacks. Its tires were flattened and it had to abandon the chase.
At Hickory Flat the suspect’s vehicle turned east onto State Highway 178 (old Highway 78). The state troopers pursued the suspect all the way from Benton County toward New Albany on the old two lane road.
The fleeing car was clocked at 110 miles per hour when it entered the New Albany city limits and the roadway became New Albany’s Bankhead Street. NAPD cars then joined the parade. The pursuit crossed the Bankhead St. Tallahatchie River bridge and continued on Bankhead through downtown. The suspect turned south on Camp Avenue, at the Union County Courthouse, fled south to I-22, and entered I-22 westbound.
The chase then headed back to Benton County on I-22, and the suspect was finally stopped at Hickory Flat, at or near I-22 Exit 48.
The chase south from Ashland, east through New Albany and then back west to Hickory Flat covered a distance of around 50 miles.
NAPD Chief Chris Robertson said a private vehicle was reportedly struck during the pursuit through New Albany, but it was not believed anyone was injured.
There is no information available to NAnewsweb.com at this time about why the chase in Benton County commenced, nor what crime was associated with the suspect. We spoke by phone with Connie Strickland at the Benton County Sheriff’s Office late Sunday afternoon, but she said no information would be available until tomorrow (Monday).
In another chase incident earlier in the evening, at about 8PM, NAPD patrolman, Brock White, gave pursuit to a vehicle on Murrah Road near the eastern city limits. White reportedly suspected the motorist of drunk driving and gave chase. Several NAPD vehicles and UCSO cars joined the pursuit.
One NAPD vehicle was reportedly struck and damaged by the suspect fleeing from Murrah Road. The suspect was eventually stopped at County Road 121 in rural Union County, and was taken into custody. Chief Robertson said, “He blew a 2.9 on the Breathalyzer test.” Robertson said the suspect is Hispanic, and that his immigration status is being checked in the course of the investigation. The suspect is David Velasquez, age 28, with an Ecru address.
We do not know how many total law enforcement vehicles were involved in the two high speed chases Saturday night. Chief Robertson said he believed as many as seven law enforcement were involved in the early evening Murrah Road chase. He said there were just two NAPD cars and UCSO cars present when the drunk driver was finally stopped and taken into custody.
A total of five vehicles were apparently damaged in the chases in two counties. Both scofflaws will face a variety of misdemeanor and, perhaps, felony charges.
All information in this article came from official sources. NAnewsweb.com will post more information if and when it becomes available.