UPDATE: A judge set $1 million bail for a Connecticut man who authorities said rammed a stolen vehicle into an Englewood Cliffs police car, injuring an officer, and then took off in the cruiser on a low-speed chase through several towns before crashing on Route 4 in Paramus.
(PHOTO, top: Sammy Natal)
Officer Mark Krapels received injuries that Englewood Cliffs Police Chief Michael Cioffi said weren’t life-threatening.
The carjacking victim also was hospitalized after hyperventilating, he said.
The carjacker — identified as 22-year-old Sereymanta Kong of Wallingford, CT — was taken to Bergen Regional Medical Center in Paramus in the custody of county sheriff’s officers.
Initial charges include assault on police, carjacking, resisting arrest and obstruction. More counts were expected.
The incident began just around 3:45 p.m. as the victim, a borough resident, headed down Castle Drive in her Mercedes with her two children — a boy, 11, and girl, 13 — on her way to take her son to a friend’s house, Cioffi said.
Seeing Kong lying in the middle of the road, the woman tried to steer around him, then stopped to try and help, he said.
That’s when he jumped up and grabbed her door handle, the chief said.
The woman got her children out of the car and Kong sped off with it north of Route 9W, he said.
Krapels intercepted the car on Sylvan Avenue with his cruiser, which Kong rammed with the stolen vehicle, Cioffi told CLIFFVIEW PILOT while on his way to visit his officer.
Alpine, Tenafly and Palisades Interstate Parkway police rushed to the scene.
Kong used the Mercedes to ram the car again at Montammy Golf Club in Alpine, then got out and tried to run, the chief said.
After a brief scuffle, Kong broke free from his pursuers, jumped behind the wheel of damaged Englewood Cliffs police car and hit the gas, he said.
The chase went through several towns — including Bergenfield, Dumont, New Milford and River Edge — with various police departments joining in along the way — among them, the Bergen County Bureau of Police Services and New Jersey State Police.
At least two New Milford police cars were among several damaged in the nearly 15-mile, low-speed pursuit, Cioffi said. The officers driving them were taken to the hospital as a precaution.
A witness told CLIFFVIEW PILOT the two police cars collided when the driver of one of them tried a “pit maneuver” — bumping a corner of rear of the fleeing car with the front corner of his — after which Kong crashed on westbound Route 4 outside the Paramus Chrysler Dodge Jeep dealership.