Owner of Camaro nearly carjacked in stolen semi chase lucky to be alive

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Ronald Chante, 51, was on a rampage behind the wheel of a stolen Phoenix city truck on Sunday. By the time he drove past our cameras, he'd already threatened and hit several squad cars. But it was Michael Knapp's Camaro that he really had his eye on.

It's a car that is often complimented.

"People were like, 'Nice car! Can I borrow it?' joking around, and that's how everything began and unfolded yesterday," Knapp said.

Sunday morning, Knapp was parked at a gas pump in Tempe when Chante in the truck pulled up very close behind him. Then Knapp said Chante waved him over.

"It was kind of like an urgent thing, so I walk up to him and he said, 'Give me the keys to your car,' and I thought he was joking around," Knapp said. "Then he said, 'Give me the keys to your car or I'm going to ram it.' And I'm like wait a second. The cops started coming in and I said no. So he put it in drive, hit the back of it, sent it about five yards or so. He really wrecked it."

Chante sped off on the rest of his run from police, ultimately ending in his death behind the wheel in Apache Junction. Fortunately, Knapp and the others at the station weren't hurt. His Camaro is a different story, but all that matters is that he and the others in Chante's path lived to tell about it.

"I knew it wasn't going to end well. I saw it in his eyes," Knapp said. "He was out to do damage to everybody in his way, including himself. That's the sad part."