Saturday, March 26, 2011
NY: SUV driver shot dead by cops in Bronx chase
A deranged SUV driver died in a fusillade of police bullets early Saturday when he tried to run down three cops after a high-speed chase that ended at the Major Deegan Expressway, sources said.
The threatened officers fired 19 shots at Orlando Santos, 28, after a 3.2-mile late-night chase along three Bronx highways, sources said.
Terrified motorists in other cars watched as Santos tried to back his Ford Expedition into the three officers as they approached the vehicle shortly after midnight.
"We have solid witnesses that he tried to run them down," said one police source. "Solid witnesses."
Santos had 14 prior drug arrests, and there was an open warrant for his arrest - a possible motive for his decision to bolt during a routine traffic stop in the Bronx, sources said.
According to sources, an NYPD radio car was stopped at the light at Prospect Ave. and 164th St. when they noticed the Expedition - its headlights off - idling two cars behind them.
The cops pulled over then flipped on their lights when Santos drove past. The SUV sped off with the cops in pursuit through local streets before jumping on the Sheridan Expressway southbound.
More cops joined the high-speed chase as the SUV moved onto the Bruckner Expressway, exited at Willis Ave. and started north on the Major Deegan.
By now, the sources said, cops had ordered traffic stopped on the Deegan - but that didn't stop Santos.
Eyewitnesses described a terrifying scene in which the crazed driver started slamming into any vehicle in his path while desperately trying to make his escape.
Four people were injured as Santos drove the SUV like a tank - in one case, backing up several times to smash one car out of his way.
Three cops closed in on foot while Santos struggled with the traffic. When the suspect spotted the trio, he threw the Expedition in reverse and tried to run them down, sources said.
The officers opened fire, with two squeezing off nine shots each and the third firing once. Police were seeking a search warrant to find out if there was anything inside the SUV.
All of the injured in the other cars were taken to Lincoln Hospital, although the extent of their injuries remained unknown, officials said.
The northbound lanes of the Deegan were shut down for hours after the 12:03 a.m. shooting, with more than a dozen police vehicles and two crime scene vans responding to the scene.