UNION, NJ – The deadly crash of a shoplifting suspect began at about 4:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon when police were summoned to the Target/Whole Foods stores on Vauxhall Road to assist with a shoplifter resisting arrest.
According to Union police, officers attempted to arrest the suspect, who was violently resisting, shouting he has AIDS. The suspect bit one of the officers and was able to break free. He ran to a nearby Jaguar and attempted to hit at least one of the officers before fleeing eastbound onto Springfield Avenue.
Responding officers spotted the fleeing vehicle in the area of Springfield Ave. and Vauxhall Road as it got bogged down in heavy traffic. The vehicle cut through the Jiffy Lube and fled on Vauxhall Road towards Valley Street.
As the fleeing vehicle reached the Mozzarella factory in Springfield, the driver lost control as he attempted to take the turn at high speed. The suspect overturned and crashed into an unoccupied medical complex building and caught fire. The sole occupant was entrapped in the vehicle.
Springfield Police and Fire Departments responded with additional manpower from Union police. Upon extinguishing the fire, the driver was found dead inside the vehicle.
Two Union officers suffered smoke and fire injuries and were transported to Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston. Another officer sustained a laceration attempting to rescue the driver. He was treated at the scene.
The investigation is ongoing. The identity of the deceased is pending.