6/15/23 Tacoma, WA – Home Invasion Traffic Stop – Suspects At Gun Point – One Suspect Stole A Fife Police Department Patrol Car – Crashes Into State Patrol Car – Serious Injuries
June 15, 2023
A Washington State Patrol (WSP) employee was taken to the hospital with “major injuries” after a home invasion suspect stole a Fife Police Department (FPD) vehicle and crashed into a WSP cruiser early Thursday morning.
FPD Assistant Chief Aaron Gardner said the incident started just after midnight when two officers in separate patrol cars responded to a report of an armed home invasion robbery on the 5800 block of Fourth Street East in Fife. Gardner said the caller barricaded herself in a room and told dispatchers people were inside her home, one of which was believed to be armed with a handgun.
“She was calling to report that individuals were inside the home, and one of them being armed with what we believe was a handgun,” said Gardner.
The three home invasion suspects fled in a vehicle as FPD officers arrived. Gardner said the officers pursued the vehicle, which ended up going into a ditch on the side of the road. At that point, the three suspects got out of vehicle and started to run away.
As the two responding officers pursued and apprehended two of the home invasion suspects, Gardner said the third suspect was “able to gain access to one of our patrol vehicles and steal it and flee from the scene.”
“The officer that was chasing after the driver did call out that the suspect was armed,” Gardner said Thursday morning. “[The officer] was struggling to gain control of the handgun that the suspect had, so his focus and attention was, rightfully so, on what he was doing at the time, which very well might have opened up the opportunity for that third suspect to take the opportunity to steal that patrol car.”
Other FPD officers along with various other Pierce County agencies started to pursue the stolen patrol vehicle using GPS, which led them into Tacoma.
KOMO News asked FPD how this could have been prevented. “Being able to look back at it now and say could the officer maybe have locked the vehicle, could anti theft devices be put into our patrol cars? Absolutely,” said Gardner.
A WSP spokesperson told KOMO News a trooper was driving north on Portland Avenue near East 32nd Street in Tacoma when the suspect driving the stolen police cruiser came out from an alley way on the right side of the road and stuck the WSP vehicle on the passenger side.
A WSP dispatcher was in the passenger seat of the trooper’s vehicle when it was hit. The dispatcher was taken to the hospital with “major injuries,” which were mostly broken bones, the WSP said. Gardner said the trooper in the vehicle was also injured but didn’t know their condition Thursday morning.
Gardner said all three suspects were in custody, adding that no FPD officers were injured. Police said there is no danger to the residents of the home that was broken into or other residents in the area.
Detectives are investigating if the three suspects know the people inside the home in Fife.