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Cruiser crashes after chase

The pursuit of a domestic abuse suspect caused a University Police officer to careen his cruiser into a ditch late Thursday afternoon in a wooded area behind the Baptist Student Center. UP Cpl. Drew Caffarelli said when he arrived on the scene, he ordered the suspect to stop. When the suspect took off on foot through the wooded area, Caffarelli said he and two other UP cruisers pursued the suspect.

During the pursuit, the suspect ran east through the woods off Sycamore Drive, crossed 50th Street and entered Excellence Apartments, UP Sgt. Dave Millich said. Caffarelli said as he chased the suspect toward 50 th Street, his car became lodged in a drainage ditch.

Millich said the victim and suspect share an apartment in Excellence. UP searched the apartment but did not find him, Millich said.

Millich said the victim was “not being too helpful” in providing investigators with information about the suspect, but he said the suspect has been positively identified. Because it is a domestic violence situation, Millich said he couldn’t yet release either of their name.

Despite the victim being uncooperative, Millich said due to the nature of the case, the suspect will be charged regardless of whether the victim wants to press charges.

“He’s going to be charged either way,” Millich said. “She doesn’t have a choice in the matter.”

According to a witness, at about 5:15 p.m. he saw the suspect beating the victim behind her gray Chevrolet S-10.

The witness, senior Lamar Madison, said the victim told him after the incident that the fight was initiated when the suspect was recklessly driving the victim’s pick-up truck. Madison said the victim told him the suspect pulled off the road, threw her keys into the wooded area and began to beat her behind the truck.

“He wasn’t just beating her. It was like a mobster slapping,” Madison said. “Like Al Capone beating someone who stole his money.”

Madison said the suspect stopped slapping the victim in the face momentarily before yelling at her, pushing her and resuming to beat her.

Madison said he was driving down Sycamore Drive when he saw the incident unfolding. He said he pulled off to the side of the road and called UP. He said a group of joggers and passersby in the area stopped but did not try to help the victim.

“She was screaming loud, but nobody came to help,” Madison said. “They were all just standing around watching.”

Madison said he thought about going over to intervene, but being unarmed, he was afraid the suspect could have a weapon. Instead, he said, he waited for UP and directed them to the scene, after a UP cruiser drove by the scene twice.

Caffarelli said the suspect was a white male with short, light-brown hair and estimated that he was about 22 years old. Millich said he was not sure if the suspect and victim were students. He said if police couldn’t locate the suspect before the end of Thursday night, paperwork would be processed and charges relating to domestic violence and resisting arrest would be filed.

A towing service removed Caffarelli’s cruiser from the ditch, and Caffarelli said the vehicle suffered some minor damage to its front end.

n Contact Ryan Meehanat