A five-hour manhunt by police through several Dorchester neighborhoods ended Thursday with the arrest of one man and the questioning of a potential suspect in connection with a chaotic early morning incident in which a state trooper suffered numerous injuries.
Brandon Smith, 25, of Dorchester was arrested on a charge of receiving a stolen car, a 2012 silver-colored Toyota Yaris that he rented in Rhode Island but failed to return, according to State Police. A state trooper who attempted to stop the car on the Neponset Street Bridge was struck and injured when the driver sped away.
It is unclear whether Smith, who was apprehended at 2:15 p.m. at the St. Francis House homeless shelter in Boston, was the driver or passenger of the vehicle, but he was not charged with assault, State Police said. He matched the description given during the manhunt by police of a 6-foot-2-inch male weighing 280 pounds with dreadlocks. He is expected to be arraigned in Dorchester District Court Friday.
State Police did not release the identity of the second man who was being questioned.
Trooper Scott Flaherty, a 10-year veteran, sustained a fractured ankle and injuries to his back and wrist, but was released from Massachusetts General Hospital Thursday evening. He and two other troopers working a detail in Neponset Circle were alerted at about 9:30 a.m. that the Yaris, reported stolen from Rhode Island on March 16, was heading in their direction, State Police said.
The three troopers walked up the bridge to intercept the car, but the driver suddenly attempted a U-turn and struck Flaherty, sending him to the ground. Troopers then fired at the Yaris, carrying two men, as it sped away. As the car drove toward Gallivan Boulevard in Dorchester, it almost ran over Flaherty, State Police said.
“Obviously, the officers who were involved in this feared for their lives,’’ said Lieutenant Colonel Francis Matthews of the State Police speaking at Neponset Circle about three hours after the incident.
According to State Police, it began at 9:15 a.m. when a trooper in a cruiser noticed the Yaris speeding on Bergin Parkway in Quincy. The trooper followed the car, but lost it in the area of Sea Street. When he checked on the Connecticut plates, he determined that the car was stolen and had been previously sought by Quincy police. The information was broadcast to State Police.
About 15 minutes later, a commuter called police to report that she was behind a silver car that was operating erratically and heading northbound on the bridge.
After the Yaris sped away from Flaherty and the other troopers on the bridge, troopers lost sight of it, State Police said. The empty car was found minutes later on Dyer Street. The passenger side of the vehicle had several bullet holes.
David Procopio, spokesman for the State Police, said neither Smith nor the unnamed potential suspect, who is also from Boston, was wounded.
The search included Boston police, canine units, a State Police helicopter, and dozens of troopers, some armed with rifles. They searched backyard sheds, trash containers, and alleys. Authorities combed neighborhoods around Dyer and Chipman streets.
The swirl of police activity along with the loud chopping sound of the low-flying helicopter unnerved many residents.
Curious residents poked their heads out of doors and over balconies, trying to find out details, even asking reporters what had happened.
“I was just curious about what was going on, so I came out, and I saw all this commotion, the helicopters above, and all the police; it was very scary,’’ said Eunice Collins, who has lived for 25 years on Darlington Street, another street searched by police.
“You wonder what’s going on in Iraq, if it’s this bad here,’’ said resident Peter Carvalho. “It’s like Armageddon. I’ve seen police action, but nothing like this.’’
As a precaution, five Boston schools were put on “safe mode’’ while the search continued. But shortly before 11 a.m., School Department spokesman Matt Wilder said all schools were returning to their normal routines.
Major Thomas Grenham of the State Police visited Flaherty at Mass. General. “His demeanor seems good,’’ Grenham said. “He’s lucky that he has no life-threatening injuries.’’