A stolen SUV being chased by Buffalo police slammed into or damaged nine other vehicles and crashed into a light pole in the Elmwood Village early Monday, creating such a loud thud that one neighbor thought the vehicle had slammed into his home.
At mid-morning Monday, skid marks still marked the path of the stolen GMC Suburban that careened off about six vehicles on the south side of Breckenridge Street, just west of Ashland Avenue, at about 2 a.m.
The eastbound Suburban then sped through the stop sign at Ashland, before slamming into a light pole and the back of a vehicle on the north side of Breckenridge; that vehicle then set off a domino-like chain reaction that apparently damaged two other vehicles parked there.
Following the crash, the driver of the stolen vehicle fled on foot, first on Breckenridge, then nearby Gren-Way Alley.
Officers John Cirulli and Matt Richards caught a suspect, identified as Willie L. Holcombe, 49, of East Tupper Street. He was arrested and charged with four crimes and three traffic violations.
At least several neighbors were awakened, either by the flashing lights of the pursuing police cars or the crash.
“I actually saw flashing lights first, and then I heard the crash,” said Katie Roche, who lives at the corner of Breckenridge and Ashland. “Then I looked out my front window and saw him running, with the police officers chasing him.”
Neighbors estimated that the speeding vehicle must have been going 50 to 60 mph, or even faster, judging by the damage and the loud crash.
Residents said they were glad that the chase occurred in the middle of the night, on a work night.
“Having a high-speed chase in a residential area is kind of scary,” Roche said. “If it had happened [at another time], it could have been worse. There could have been people walking in the area.”
The chase began after police spotted the vehicle failing to stop for a stop sign at Grant and Hampshire streets. Police checked the license-plate number and learned the vehicle may have been stolen. Northwest District patrol officers then pursued the SUV with lights and sirens, starting at Grant and West Ferry Street.
According to police reports, Holcombe was charged with criminal possession of stolen property, unauthorized use of a vehicle, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration, reckless driving, failure to stop at a stop sign and aggravated unlicensed operation.