An intense police chase in Washington State took a dramatic turn when patrol vehicles caught on fire, following an armed carjacking incident. This incident unfolded on Monday, originating from a car theft at a park in the Tacoma area. The suspect, wielding a gun, stole a vehicle, prompting a pursuit by law enforcement officials. The chase escalated as the suspect fled onto Interstate 5 in Tacoma, leading the pursuit across several cities. Ultimately, the chase culminated in a fiery spectacle, as patrol cars became engulfed in flames, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.

Carjacking Sparks High-Speed Pursuit

The carjacking incident began when an individual, brandishing a firearm, forcibly stole a car in a park near Tacoma. Promptly responding to the situation, officers initiated a pursuit of the suspect, who fled onto Interstate 5 in Tacoma. The pursuit continued through multiple cities, with law enforcement officers doggedly trailing the stolen vehicle. Eventually, the pursuit concluded in a stunning display of chaos, as the suspect’s car burst into flames.

Innovative Tracking Technology Assists Law Enforcement

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office successfully employed Apple’s AirTag product, owned by the car’s original owner, to track the stolen vehicle. Utilizing this innovative tracking technology, deputies traced the car’s location to a Federal Way shopping complex, approximately 15 miles north of the initial carjacking site. Upon reaching the shopping complex, law enforcement officers discovered that the carjacker had driven over spike strips while evading capture, resulting in a deflated rear tire, as confirmed by the sheriff’s office.

Dramatic Crash and Swift Apprehension

After pursuing the suspect for several miles, the chase transitioned onto the freeway, where a deputy managed to force the suspect’s car into a crash. Seizing the opportunity, the driver suspect fled the scene, leaving behind a female passenger. Shortly thereafter, the stolen vehicle caught fire, creating a dangerous situation. However, law enforcement officers acted swiftly, apprehending the male suspect before the fire engulfed the car entirely. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office highlighted the successful rescue of the female passenger, conducted just before the vehicle became fully consumed by flames.

Fire Spreads to Patrol Cars

The intense fire extended beyond the stolen vehicle, reaching two nearby patrol cars through the dry grass separating them. Prompt response from officers allowed them to extinguish the flames engulfing one of the patrol cars. Meanwhile, fire officials swiftly dealt with the other two vehicles, successfully containing and eliminating the fire. Fortunately, no deputies suffered injuries during this fiery incident.

Traffic Disruption and Aftermath

The police chase resulted in the closure of all southbound lanes of Interstate 5. These lanes remained blocked until approximately 1:40 p.m., when two lanes were reopened to alleviate the traffic congestion. The final reopening of all lanes occurred shortly before 3 p.m., restoring normal traffic flow in the area.

Injuries and Legal Proceedings

Both the suspect and the female passenger sustained injuries during the crash, necessitating hospitalization. Authorities confirmed that the car’s owners positively identified the carjacker to law enforcement officers. Following medical clearance, the suspect would face booking and legal proceedings.

Washington’s Car Theft Statistics

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s 2022 Vehicle Theft Trend Report, Washington ranks third in the nation for the number of vehicles stolen last year. The report, published in March, revealed that out of just over a million vehicles stolen nationwide, 46,939 were stolen in Washington State. However, Washington’s theft rate falls behind that of California and Texas, the two most populous states in the U.S.