Exclusive Photos & Video: Police Chase Through North Escambia Easter Sunday

March 23, 2008

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The Escambia County Sheriff’s Department chased a potentially suicidal man about 50 miles through North Escambia Sunday afternoon.

chase50.jpgThe man was identified as Aaron Bruce, 18, by deputies. Law enforcement officers had been on the lookout for Bruce since early afternoon after relatives reported that he was possibly suicidal and he believed that police officers were out to get him, according to Lt. Sammy Peavy of the Escambia Sheriff’s Department. He had also removed an ankle GPS monitoring device that he was wearing while awaiting trail on earlier charges of grand theft auto and burglary. He is pictured left (click to enlarge) behind the wheel of his Grand Am during the chase.

Bruce left the area of Old Chemstrand and Chemstrand roads near Solutia in Cantonment and stole a tag because his Pontiac Grand Am did not have a tag, Peavy said. Deputies spotted Bruce and gave chase near Jack’s Branch Road and Kingsfield Road. The chase proceeded north on Jacks Branch Road past Barrineau Park Road, north on County Road 99 to Walnut Hill (pictured top), south on Highway 97, across Highway 29 in Molino to Molino Road, and south on Molino Road to the Cottage Hill community. Bruce finally hit a chain link fence at a home on the end of a dirt lane off Crowndale Road.

Deputies had “backed off” of the vehicle when the sheriff’s department helicopter began following the Grand Am near Pilgrim Hills along Highway 97. When Bruce hit the fence off Crowndale Road, residents of the area gave chase before deputies arrived. He fled into a wooded area, according to witnesses. A perimeter was setup by deputies around the area, and a sheriff’s canine unit was called to the scene.

That canine unit was unable to locate Bruce, possibly because the residents that gave chase had contaminated the suspect’s scent, Peavy said. He said the sheriff’s helicopter had spotted Bruce in the woods but had lost him.

The search was called off a little after 3:00 Sunday afternoon.

bruce.jpgBruce was later arrested by deputies and charged with reckless driving and fleeing or attempting to allude law enforcement authorities. His bond was set at $5,000 on the reckless driving charge and $45,000 on the attempting to allude charge. He is pictured, left in his booking photo.

NorthEscambia.com has obtained exclusive video of the chase as it turned from Highway 99 to Highway 97 in Walnut Hill.

(article continues below video, click to play video)

Speeds in the chase were reported to approach 70 mph, but the chase often proceeded at speeds near the speed limit. NorthEscambia.com was able to follow the chase at a safe distance at a legal speed for some distance down Highway 97 from Highway 99.

One of Bruce’s relatives, who did not wish to be identified or directly quoted , told NorthEscambia.com that Bruce had become upset “over a girl” earlier Sunday. The relative said he found Bruce cutting an extension cord in a garage and threatening to hang himself.

Click here for a complete NorthEscambia.com photo gallery, including exclusive photos of the chase as it passed though Walnut Hill.

(Scroll down for all photos.) Pictured below: Bruce turns at a high rate of speed from County Road 99 to Highway 97 Sunday afternoon. The smaller spare tire on the right rear of the vehicle is beginning to lift off the highway in this photo. Pictured below middle: The suspect behind the wheel during Sunday’s chase. Pictured bottom: The vehicle hit a fence at the end of a dirt lane off Crowndale Road in the Cottage Hill community. NorthEscambia.com exclusive photos, click to enlarge.

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