UNION COUNTY, NJ — Police are on the lookout for a Newark man alleged to have rammed a city police car prompting a nearly 30-mile-long police chase into Union County over the weekend, authorities said Monday.
Police have issued a warrant for the arrest of the man, Justin Archer, 28, who officers found seemingly unconscious in the driver’s seat of a 2017 Ford van just after 10:45 a.m. Saturday, Newark Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose said in a statement Monday. The van had been reported stolen out of Elizabeth and when officers shouted commands for Archer to exit the vehicle, he drove the van in reverse, ramming the police car, Ambrose said.
“The driver then accelerated forward towards one of the officers and drove along the sidewalk, putting several pedestrians in danger,” Ambrose said. “The driver continued driving onto Van Vechten Street, going the wrong way on a one-way street. He then turned right onto Frelinghuysen Avenue, speeding, driving erratically and nearly striking several vehicles.”
Newark police chased Archer onto Route 22 in Springfield, where city police broke off the chase.
Police described Archer as 5-foot 11-inches tall, weighing 200 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes, police said. Newark detectives have obtained a warrant for Archer’s arrest on charges of aggravated assault on a police officer, eluding police in a motor vehicle at the risk of serious injury or death and receiving stolen property, Ambrose said.
In Mountainside — about 26 miles from Newark — police spotted the van but lost sight of it until officers began chasing the vehicle in nearby Scotch Plains, said Police Chief Ted Conley, of the Scotch Plains police. Scotch Plains police broke off the chase in Garwood, he said.
In Westfield, officers stood by to assist, police there said.
Kristine Van Sickle, who lives on Francis Terrace in Westfield, heard the sirens and saw police chase the van.
“He flew up Central Avenue heading towards town with three to four Clark cars behind him,” said Van Sickle, who watched the commotion from the back of her home.
In Clark, video footage provided to TAPinto showed police chasing the vehicle down Raritan Road and turning onto Central Avenue at around noon.
On Saturday evening, officers in Cranford recovered the van in a parking lot near Riverside Drive and Casino Avenue, and then turned the vehicle over to Scotch Plains police, said Detective Lt. Ed Davenport, of the Cranford police.
Cranford Police also called in a Union County Sheriff’s Office canine unit to search the area but it was not able to find the driver, Davenport said.
The search for Archer continued on Monday night.
“While police are actively searching for Archer, we seek the public’s help in quickly locating him so that he can be removed from our streets,” Ambrose said.
Robert Ramirez, of TAPinto Cranford, and Elizabeth Clee, of TAPinto Clark, contributed to this story.