The area in front of the Student Health Services building may seem normal enough to students passing by today, but for a brief period Monday night it was a crime scene strewn with police cars.
What began as a routine traffic stop turned into a chase that wound its way through the USF campus before coming to a halt between SHS and the Phyllis P. Marshall Center.
Shortly after 8 p.m., Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office officer Rick DiPianta stopped an unnamed black suspect driving a tan Buick with black detailing for speeding in the senior zone on Fletcher Avenue. Upon pulling the driver’s records, police saw he had outstanding felony charges for previous traffic infractions.
When the officer stepped out of his car and began walking toward the suspect’s vehicle, the suspect reversed into the officer’s car, ramming it twice before fleeing onto Palm Drive. With officers in pursuit, he turned left onto Holly Drive, took a right at Maple Drive and another right at Willow Drive. The chase continued at approximately 15 mph through the WUSF parking lot, where the suspect drove over a curb – knocking down two posts and losing a turn signal cover – and proceeded toward the SHS building.
The suspect then bailed from his vehicle and began to flee on foot but was apprehended quickly. His Buick came to a stop on the walkway between SHS and the Marshall Center when he drove through a chain-link barricade and into a lamp post.
“We usually don’t end up in the middle of the grass like this,” DiPianta said.
According to DiPianta, the suspect didn’t endanger any lives during the pursuit and was not intoxicated in any way, nor is he a USF student or affiliate.