San Francisco police on Saturday arrested a man — who stole a patrol car and then ditched it to jump off a freeway on-ramp — in connection to an officer-involved shooting on Treasure Island.
According to a department statement, officers, who received a report of a man wielding a knife, arrived near Chestnut and Lyon streets at about 8:15 a.m. Once on the scene, they located a man who matched the suspect’s description and attempted to detain him. However, the man fled on foot, forcing officers to run after him.
Police said the still unidentified man then leaped into a marked patrol car whose key was still in the ignition. The suspect succeeded in shaking off the officers by driving away, police said.
Shortly thereafter, officers, locating the stolen police car on San Francisco’s streets, began chasing the suspect anew. The statement indicated that the man was involved in several hit-and-run accidents with other people’s cars as he again tried to give police the slip.
The pursuit took the suspect and San Francisco police to Treasure Island where officers locked the main gate in order to prevent the man from getting away. Not to be deterred, however, he accelerated and sped onto the sidewalk, police said.
Two officers, afraid for the safety of pedestrians and others in the area, fired at the suspect. But no one was struck as the suspect made his way on to the westbound Bay Bridge on-ramp, and rammed into another car that was paused at a stop sign, police said.
After the crash, the suspect scrambled out of the police car and jumped from the upper deck of the Bay Bridge to its lower deck, which was about 30 to 40 feet below, police said.
Seemingly unconcerned for his own safety, an officer also took the plunge. He charged after the suspect – who, meanwhile, attempted another carjacking – and nabbed him, police said.
Speaking at a news conference, Deputy Chief Hector Sainez assuaged concerns about the suspect being able to pilfer a police firearm while in the stolen patrol car.
"Unless you’re familiar with how to access those weapons, you would not be able to access [them]," he said, adding that the firearms are secured with secondary locking systems.
Two officers, the suspect and a motorist were treated for injuries Saturday, police said.
When asked if he had ever seen a suspect steal a police car before, Sainez admitted: "It’s not a common occurrence. I’ve seen it in my career maybe once before and I’ve been in law enforcement for 27 years now."
Due to police activity, traffic on the Bay Bridge remained snarled till well into the evening.
The incident remains under investigation, according to police.
NBC Bay Area's Gillian Edevane contributed to this report.