BEDFORD — In a wild spree evocative of a Hollywood car chase thriller, a man led police on a high-speed pursuit north and west of Boston Monday, commandeering four cars, careering through police blockades, and exchanging gunfire with officers before he was arrested in Bedford.
Stunned residents of Concord, Carlisle, Newton, and Haverhill looked on as the chase unfolded in a string of car crashes, brazen carjackings, and a shootout on the Concord-Carlisle line before ending when the suspect struck a telephone pole and a tree on a quiet street in Bedford.
“This dangerous, armed felon clearly showed he was willing to put innocent people in harm’s way,” Bedford Police Chief Robert Bongiorno said during an interview.
The suspect — identified by police as Donald Hall, 28, of Everett — was being treated at an area hospital for injuries that were not considered life-threatening, said Bedford police spokesman John Guilfoil.
A law enforcement official said the man had been wounded in a shootout with police.
Susanne Harrison, 76, said she was sitting in her Springs Road home in Bedford at about 2 p.m. when she said she heard sirens and a loud crash. Helicopters flew overhead, and State Police cruisers swarmed through the neighborhood.
“There must have been 20 police cars outside,” she said. “It was so loud, just a huge bang.”
Bedford police were investigating whether a second suspect was involved in the chain of events, which started early Monday in Haverhill, according to a statement by the city’s police.
There, at approximately 2:20 a.m., Haverhill police got a call from a man who said two men, one of them armed, had demanded his car keys. The man was able to escape, and the car was not taken, but several minutes later police received a new 911 call, from two people who said a man had carjacked their vehicle at gunpoint.
Three hours later, a car believed to be the one stolen in Haverhill was involved in a crash at the corner of Ashmont Avenue and Crafts Street in Newton, said Newton police Lieutenant Bruce Apotheker.
Around midday, less than a mile from the Newton crash scene, Antoinette Stewart, 75, was watching television alone in her home when she heard a soft knock on her door.
She answered to find a “normal-looking young man, tall, with some facial hair,” telling her that he had sideswiped her car.
She said he nonchalantly reached in and grabbed her car keys from the kitchen table, just an arm’s length away.
“I wasn’t really thinking about why he took the keys,” she said. “He wasn’t threatening; he didn’t intimidate me. I just followed him outside. I didn’t really realize anything was wrong until he unlocked my car and got into it.”
When Stewart confronted the man, he pulled up his shirt to show her a gun tucked into his pants. “I backed off, came back into the house, and called police,” she said. The suspect drove away in her Acura, she said.
Police in an unmarked car heard the woman’s distress call, located the stolen Acura, and started following it. At a stoplight, a second police car blocked the Acura in. But when the officer stepped out of his car, the suspect allegedly drove the Acura at him.
“Fearing for his life, [the officer] discharged his weapon,” Apotheker said.
The suspect sped away in the Acura, losing police, he said, and sideswiped three cars, injuring one occupant.
The suspect drove to Billerica, where he left the Acura and carjacked a white Toyota Tundra pickup, Bongiorno said, and headed toward Carlisle.
By then it was just before 1:30 p.m.
Jack O’Connor of Carlisle was parked in his driveway in Carlisle center when he glanced out at the road and saw a white pickup truck passing his house with what appeared to be a police car in pursuit. Guessing the driver was in trouble for speeding in the school zone or failing to yield at the rotary, O’Connor decided to follow the chase.
As O’Connor was approaching the Concord-Carlisle town line, he saw that the white truck had crashed into an approaching car. “The police were out of their cars in a crouched stance with guns drawn,” he said. “It looked like the owner of the car that the truck crashed into was squatting behind the police car, trying to keep out of the way.”
Amy Versaggi saw the scene unfold from her home off Concord Street.
“I saw a Toyota Tundra facing Concord and a little car, like a Prius, in the woods,” she said. “I saw the police right behind the Tundra. Then I heard gunshots, six gunshots. At that point, I thought to myself, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t be looking out the window.’ Then I saw the police facing toward my yard with guns drawn and heard another shot. And then the police took off following the white Tundra toward Concord.”
Melynda Gambino was on the road as the white truck flew by toward Concord, with police cars in pursuit and more approaching from Concord.
“One of the [Tundra’s] tires was completely blown off,” she said. “He was driving on the rim. I couldn’t believe how fast he was driving on a completely blown-out tire.”
Near Concord center, police set up a makeshift roadblock of spikes on Lowell Road near the Concord Lumber Store.
Malcolm Johnstone, 59, of Concord, was standing outside the store when he saw the truck speeding toward the barricade with police in pursuit, traveling, he estimated, at least 70 miles per hour, twice the speed limit. “He had one flat tire before he hit the spikes,” said Johnstone. “When he hit them, he started to veer and crashed into a tree.”
The man then jumped out of the car, and hijacked another vehicle, a Ford Flex, and drove off, Johnstone said.
Bongiorno said the suspect drove the Ford into Bedford, where he crashed on Springs Road, where he was arrested by state and local police.
The suspect was removed from the vehicle and questioned by police. EMS workers placed him on a stretcher and took him away in an ambulance. Police said the man faces several charges.