21 Suspected illegals caught after chase ends in wreckPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- Several people were caught running through a Valley neighborhood after bailing out of rolled van near 27th and Southern avenues.
The Department of Public Safety had been following the van as it drove erratically through Phoenix.
It started at about 6:45 a.m., when a DPS officer pulled up alongside the van on westbound Interstate 10 near Elliot Road. The officer noticed that there seemed to be more people inside than the van could safely carry.
DPS said the officer initially started following the van in the hope that it would lead officers to a drop house.
After getting off the freeway, the driver of the van refused to stop, plowing though barricades and over medians. DPS said the van even tried to ram one of its cruisers.
DPS said it suspended the chase when the van entered a school zone.
Just before 7:30 a.m., the van was involved in a wreck. It ran a stop sign, and then slammed into another car and rolled over. As soon as the van rolled, nearly two dozen people, suspected illegal immigrants, bailed out and ran through the neighborhood.
Video from NewsChopper 3 showed several people hopping over fences going from backyard to backyard.
Officers with guns drawn were on the scene to corral the people. While both DPS and Phoenix police officers spent quite some time searching the neighborhood, DPS said it eventually took 21 people into custody. They believe that's all the people who were in the van when it crashed.
Police said several people were taken to the hospital for treatment, but no major injuries were reported.
DPS said investigators are holding the driver of the van and one occupant on potential charges of human smuggling and other criminanl violations.
The other 19 people are being interviewed and will likely be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Ed Pastor Elementary School, which is in the Roosevelt School District, was placed on lockdown while officers searched for the people who bailed out of the wrecked van..