Two Broward Sheriff's deputies and a burglary suspect have been hospitalized with injuries described as not life-threatening after the suspect was confronted Thursday morning at a Pompano Beach home and fled on A1A, authorities said.
A resident returning home to the 2200 block of Bay Drive in Pompano Beach caught a burglar breaking into the home and alerted the sheriff's office at about 9:10 a.m., Veda Coleman-Wright, an agency spokeswoman, said.
When deputies responded to the scene, the fleeing suspect ran over a deputy, Coleman-Wright said.
"When the deputy was struck, other deputies did fire their weapons," she said. "Nobody was hit with gunfire."
The suspect fled northbound on A1A toward Deerfield Beach where deputies had been notified by radio, Coleman-Wright said.
At that point, deputies began blocking off roads and traffic to protect the many pedestrians, joggers and bicyclists who enjoy that stretch of A1A, also known as Hillsboro Mile, through Hillsboro Beach.
At some point during the four-mile pursuit, a police dispatch recording described how the suspect's car traveled the wrong direction and eventually blew out a tire.
"Especially in light of what occurred yesterday, you can imagine that our deputies were very sensitive to what was going on," Coleman-Wright said, referring to Maritza Medina, a Broward woman who had a deadly run-in Wednesday with a fleeing suspect at U.S. 27 and Griffin Road.
Victor-Hugo Vaca Jr. was walking his dog Romeo in front of his Hillsboro Beach home when the suspect's vehicle and patrol cars whooshed past him like barreling train, he said. Vaca feared for his life and first thought of Medina, he said.
"That's the first thing that flashed in my mind, the second thing was my dog and my own safety," he said, "I had enough time to grab his neck back with the leash before he walked into that chaos. It gave me just enough time to react.
"I felt the force of the chase coming towards me. They were coming at such a velocity and there was such a caravan of metal," he said. "We were stuck in our tracks; we didn't move."
A bicyclist on the opposite side of the road jumped off his bike because he was so shaken and told Vaca how terrified he was, he said.
In Deerfield Beach Thursday morning, just south of Hillsboro Boulevard and within feet of the Comfort Inn, the fleeing burglary suspect crashed into the passenger's side of a deputy's patrol car that may have been heading south on A1A, Coleman-Wright said.
Despite the collision, the suspect tried to put his car in reverse to continue his escape, Coleman-Wright said.
But deputies were ultimately able to talk him out of the vehicle, she said.
The suspect and both deputies were taken to Broward Health North where they were being treated for injuries that were non-life threatening, Coleman-Wright said.
Outside of the Comfort Inn, hotel guests congregated just feet from the suspect's mangled car. Sebastian Jordan, 18, said he heard the impact of the crash, walked over to the window of his fourth-floor hotel room and saw deputies with their guns drawn at the suspect.
"I was surprised because we just saw this yesterday on the news," he said. "I see the guns all over, the police, and I said, 'Mom, watch this.'"
Jordan was staying at the hotel with his mother who was visiting from Bolivia, and they watched as the suspect opened his car door and surrendered.
Joe Gerner, who was visiting from New York with family from Poland, said he didn't witness the incident, but stepped out to the scene of ambulances and patrol cars. He's used to crime back home, he said, but his relatives have not had the same exposure to it.
"It's a little bit more of a surprise to our family from Poland," Gerner said, "They see this a little less often than we do."
Outside the hospital, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters that he had visited with the injured deputies--one was hurt in the ribs and the other had a leg injury, he said.