Update: A suspect, Jesse Lewis, is expected to appear in provincial court in St. John's this morning.
More details on court proceedings coming later today.
A 21-year-old man is set to appear in court Thursday morning on numerous charges after he was arrested Wednesday afternoon for erratic driving and allegedly carjacking a van in St. John’s while a woman and two children were in the vehicle.
The woman and children got out of the vehicle and were not injured.
The incident began in Avondale early Wednesday morning, when the RCMP received a report of a stolen vehicle and a male driver who was speeding and had side-swiped a vehicle. The man later left a gas station after not paying, and sped to St. John’s, along with a male passenger, the RCMP stated in a news release.
Both Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) and Holyrood RCMP attempted to locate the suspect as he sped a red Kia Sedona from Colliers to St. John’s, causing several accidents.
“The driver attempted to ram three separate marked RNC patrol cars and had a number of near miss collisions with other vehicles in various parts of the city, and two confirmed collisions,” the RCMP stated.
RNC officers located the vehicle several times throughout Wednesday morning around metro, but the man was driving very fast and evaded police several times, RNC spokesperson Const. Geoff Higdon said.
At one point, the suspect rammed the Sedona into a marked RNC car near Columbus Drive and drove away, Higdon said.
Police received multiple reports from the public about the erratic driving all around metro, including near misses and dangerous driving.
That includes one report that the vehicle may have been involved in a hit and run on Ropewalk Lane. Officers responded, but did not locate the damaged vehicle. That investigation is ongoing.
Meanwhile, the Sedona went through the intersection at Thorburn Road and O'Leary Avenue causing a three-vehicle accident but no injuries. It then continued up Thorburn Road toward Austin Street, where it crashed into a utility pole — breaking it off and bringing down the wire.
The Sedona was then abandoned near a housing unit, and Newfoundland Power personnel arrived on the scene to assess the situation.
Higdon said a male passenger got out of the vehicle and was questioned by police. The passenger currently does not face any charges and was not arrested.
Witnesses said they saw the passenger running around outside the vehicle screaming, “Help me!” They also said he claimed the driver would not let him out of the vehicle and that he got in it, with the suspect subsequently driving erratically, in Holyrood.
Police allege the driver then ran toward a nearby residence and carjacked a red Pontiac van with a woman and two children inside. The woman and children got out before the man sped toward the Trans-Canada Highway.
Higdon said the man had a weapon, but would not say what kind.
Witnesses said they saw the man with a knife.
The suspect then drove back to Colliers, where the RCMP caught up with and arrested him after deploying a spike belt.
Before he was arrested, however, the RCMP sent out a warning to residents in Colliers to remain in their homes and businesses and to not engage with the driver.
The man faces numerous charges, including theft of a motor vehicle, robbery, assault with a weapon, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, flight from police, multiple breaches of court orders and Highway Traffic Act offences. He is in custody, and the RCMP is investigating the involvement of his passenger.
– With files from Juanita Mercer