Police chase ends when man crashes SUV into church

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The driver of an SUV crashed into a parked car and then a church during a seven-minute police chase Monday afternoon in Norfolk, according to police.

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Norfolk police said they were informed Monday that the driver and a passenger of a grey Nissan Rogue had used guns to threaten several people walking in the area of East Olney Road and Lincoln Street.

Officers said they saw the SUV in the 700 block of East Olney Road around 12:50 p.m. and tried to get the driver to pull over, but he drove onto Interstate 264 and sideswiped a tractor-trailer on the Berkley Bridge.

Police said the driver then got off the interstate at W. Berkley Avenue, continued onto E. Berkley Avenue — which turns into E. Indian River Road — before turning onto Wilson Road, then Cypress Street and Vernon Drive.

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That’s when police said the driver hit an unoccupied car parked in the area of Vine Street and Vernon Drive.

The passenger, a 21-year-old man, tried to run from the scene, but was detained without incident after a brief foot chase, police said. He was treated on scene by paramedics, according to police.

Police said the driver continued down Vernon Drive before he turned onto Berkley Avenue Extended, where he crashed into First Baptist Church, Berkley.

He got out of the SUV and tried to run, but was also arrested after a short foot chase, according to officers.

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Karen Mills, administrator of the church, said she was inside when someone alerted her.

“I was on the phone and he told me, ‘You need to get off the phone! There’s been an accident at the church!’ and I’m like, ‘What kind of accident?’ And he says, ‘Someone has run into the church.’”

Mills said the SUV left a hole in the part of the building closest to the fellowship hall and church leaders had already contacted an insurance company.

“It went through the first layer of what’s there, but it didn’t go through the second layer, so that’s good. It did sever some pipes,” Mills said. “It happened during a time when children were in school, so you didn’t have to be concerned about that, as well as a lot of people were at work, so they weren’t walking along the streets going different places.”

Police said the driver was taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital to be treated for non life-threatening injuries. Charges against both men have not yet been filed.

“It’s terrible. It’s terrible that we have to be concerned about that. It’s terrible that we have people who are just going in the wrong direction,” Mills said.

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