Police still trying to identify man who rammed police car, caused fiery crash

Posted: Updated:
By Brad Denny By Brad Denny
By Brad Denny By Brad Denny
By Brad Denny By Brad Denny
By Brad Denny By Brad Denny
By Brad Denny By Brad Denny

PHOENIX -- Police say he is dangerous, desperate, and he seems to have disappeared.

Now they're asking for the public's help to identify and track down the man they say rammed a Police SUV multiple times before crashing a stolen truck into a tree.

"It was a loud boom and a lot of sirens going," Catherine Smith told 3TV last week.

That was the common observation to the chaos that unfolded in a Northwest Phoenix Neighborhood last week.

"It was pretty scary," added Smith.

According to Phoenix Police, two officers were in the area of 35th Avenue and Thomas on Jan. 25 when they spotted what they thought was a stolen truck.

After getting confirmation that it was stolen and calling for back up, the pair began following the truck in their marked police SUV.

"Then suddenly the truck just stops, the driver puts the truck in reverse and he rams our Tahoe, and then he takes off again," said Phoenix Police Media Relations Officer James Holmes.

At that point, Holmes said the officers began a pursuit, chasing the guy through neighborhoods until they eventually reach an area near 39th Avenue and Thomas where they are rammed two more times by the suspect.

"At this point, they are in fear for their life and there's nowhere for them to go either. So one of the officers actually fires his duty weapon at the truck," Holmes said.

The driver then takes off again in the truck crossing into a yard and slamming into a tree, that's when police say the truck burst into flames and the driver jumped out and ran away.

He has not been seen since.

"The only description we really had was a Hispanic appearing male with a white t-shirt and a baseball cap, so we didn't have a lot to go on," said Holmes.

Just more than a week later and investigators still don't have much to go on, which is why they are asking for the public's help to figure out who he is and where he is.

"If he's willing to ram a police vehicle like that knowing that he's putting those officers in a deadly force situation and yet he was willing to take that gamble until the truck exploded and he ran from it, makes him dangerous and we really do want to find him," Holmes said.

Officers spent several hours searching the area for the suspect the morning of the 25th but came up empty handed.

3TV learned the two officers involved in this chose not to chase after the suspect following the crash and subsequent fire.

"The officers now have a decision to make you've got a truck that's burning against a home with people inside or that's what they were thinking or do they chase the suspect and they decided the citizens' safety was much more important," Holmes said.

It turns out there were people inside the home. Holmes told 3TV one of them was in a wheelchair. The officers were able to get them out safely.

Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to call Silent Witness at 480-948-6377 or toll free at 1-800-343-TIPS.