Police have released new details of a high-speed pursuit involving a stolen U-Haul with a reported kidnapping victim on board, after chaotic scenes played out in Toronto on Wednesday.
The chase, involving a police helicopter and leading to multiple crashes, centred on a man accused of stabbing an off-duty police officer at the beginning of the month during a robbery at a Best Buy.
On Wednesday morning, Toronto police officers were searching the area of Danforth and Wolfe avenues, looking for a man they believed was involved in a stabbing.
The man had allegedly stabbed an off-duty police officer at the start of December during a robbery at a Best Buy, with more than a week of work put into locating him.
As officers searched, police said the man forced himself into an apartment in the area and took a man back with him at gunpoint. He reportedly drove away with the victim inside a stolen U-Haul truck.
Around 11:30 a.m., officers spotted the vehicle, which they said was stolen the day before.
Toronto police said they tried to stop the vehicle. Instead of slowing down to interact with police, however, police say the man sped up, crashing into two police vehicles and striking two officers.
“The accused then struck other civilian vehicles in his attempt to evade the officers, and fled with the victim still inside,” police said.
With police in pursuit “at a safe distance behind,” the man drove through the streets of Toronto.
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When the U-Haul slowed to turn at the Kennedy and Ellesmere roads intersection, police said the alleged kidnapping victim jumped from the vehicle. He wasn’t injured.
“The accused continued to drive recklessly, at high speeds, running multiple red lights, driving onto sidewalks, into oncoming traffic, and hitting several vehicles and a cyclist,” police said.
He allegedly drove through Toronto into Durham Region and back again with police cruisers and a helicopter in pursuit.
The man was eventually arrested around Carlton and Church streets, with an airsoft pistol found in his possession, police said.
Footage from the scene appeared to show the U-Haul had been t-boned by an armoured police vehicle and a tow truck.
“This was actually the safest moment in time to take the vehicle out,” Insp. Maher Abdel-Malik said on Wednesday.
The truck driver involved said he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Investigators said that while multiple crashes were reported during the chase, no one sustained more than minor injuries.
A 47-year-old man from Toronto now faces a slew of charges, including seven counts of dangerous operation, eight counts of leaving the scene of an accident and four counts of assault with a weapon.
His first court appearance was scheduled for Thursday.
— with files from Global News’ Kayla McLean
&© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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