I-71 police chase ends in crash, foot pursuit near mall

I-71 police chase ends in crash, foot pursuit near mall
A wrecker tows the Chevrolet Suburban away early Tuesday. (FOX19 NOW/Sara G. Celi)
A wrecker tows the Chevrolet Suburban away early Tuesday. (FOX19 NOW/Sara G. Celi)

SYCAMORE TOWNSHIP, OH (FOX19) - A police chase on northbound Interstate 71 ended in a crash just off the Kenwood Road exit, followed by a foot chase and manhunt early Tuesday, Fairfax police said.

Authorities from six different police agencies swarmed the scene near Kenwood Towne Centre in Sycamore Township just before 5 a.m.

They left about an hour later without arresting the suspect, who remains at large.

Walmart surveillance video cameras captured images of the suspect, identified by police as Clarence Mikhail Oneil Jones.

The incident began as an attempted theft from the Walmart store off Red Bank Roan in Fairfax at 4:44 a.m., said Fairfax Police Lt. Jeff Bronson.

The suspect had a grocery cart full of electronics and was "acting kind of hinky" inside the store, he said.

That suspicious behavior drew the attention of a cashier, who alerted a Cincinnati Police District 2 sergeant also in the store, grabbing dinner, Bronson said.

The man told the cashier he was going outside to get his credit card, but he then took off, leaving the merchandise behind.

He sped away in a dark Chevy Tahoe.

Fairfax police, alerted to the attempted theft at the store, spotted the SUV and attempted a traffic stop on Red Bank Road, Bronson said.

The suspect pulled over, left the vehicle running and stuck both hands out the driver's side window, he said.

"Next thing you know, he takes off on them on them again," Bronson said.

A chase ensued up northbound I-71, ending in a crash when the SUV exited onto Kenwood Road and struck a rock wall.

Meanwhile, dozens of officers responded to assist from police departments in Cincinnati, Blue Ash, Madeira and Montgomery, along with deputies from the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

The suspect bailed from the vehicle and ran off.

"He ran over some fences and they lost him by the mall," Bronson said.

A wrecker towed the Tahoe away. Police have since learned it was stolen out of Lexington, Kentucky, Bronson said.

The suspect allegedly stole it from a male driver who gave him a ride during the recent snowstorm, according to police.

When asked why Fairfax officers chose to chase an attempted theft suspect onto the highway, Bronson responded:

"Because people shouldn't run. We didn't turn this into a pursuit. This was a traffic stop for a person committing a theft offense and he chose to flee."

He also said: "If there is a big safety risk or something like that, then, yeah, the officers have enough common sense to break it off but it's 4 in the morning and no traffic and every cop (on duty working) is out.

"He was a lucky bad guy and got away. There was a felony, the vehicle was stolen, we just didn't know that yet so there's usually more to the picture. Nobody usually runs for the stupid stuff. For the most part there is always an underlying reason."

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