Three suspects are in custody Wednesday night following an apparent carjacking and the high-speed chase that ensued. One of the victims vividly describes the heart-stopping event and questions the response of the Rockford Police Department.
Twenty-six-year-old Mike Morales has two physical reminders of his night of terror. The headlight from his Volkswagen Beetle is the only part of his car that was left unscathed. The same can't be said for his face. More than a dozen stitches mark the spot where Morales was pistol-whipped following a high-speed chase.
It all started at about 10:30 Tuesday night when Morales stopped at this house on the 200 block of Guard Street to meet a friend. As the two entered Morales' car, a group of men approached the car and displayed a gun. Morales hit the gas immediately, the men followed behind.
Morales says, “We took a right onto Harlem Blvd. toward North Main. As we turned we struck a vehicle and we proceeded further down the street, and two more shots were fired.”
At this point, Morales and his passenger were on the phone with the police, frantically looking for help. This, while traveling 100 miles an hour down North Main Street with shots still being fired in their direction.
Morales goes on to say, “My motive was to try to get them to empty their guns as well as to stay away from them and find an officer somewhere down Main Street.”
The pursuit continued, still no sight of police. Meanwhile, Morales says the 9-1-1 dispatcher advised him to pull over and wait for assistance. Morales says that wasn't an option.
Morales says, “What else could I do? Pull over and risk being shot to death or continue going until my car died on me?”
His strategy paid off.
“We ended up on the Harlem Toll Bridge where we spun out and lost control. He put the gun to my head and pulled the trigger but it was empty. That's when he gashed me in the head,” recounts Morales.
It was around that time when squad cars arrived and apprehended three out of the four suspects, but for Morales it wasn't soon enough. By his account, it took police more than 30 minutes to respond, and Wednesday night he's demanding answers, and an apology.
“I'm to the point if something isn't done, I’m going to contact an attorney and seek charges against the Rockford Police Department for the fact they could have handled things a little quicker,” he says.
Deputy Chief Dominic Iasperro said he certainly understood how they felt, but defended his officers for converging on the scene in a timely fashion, and apprehending the armed suspects.
The search continues for a fourth suspect involved. Deputy Chief Iasperro says they continue to follow many leads.