Man steals Texas fire dept. vehicle, strikes scooter rider

Police said San Antonio paramedics left the truck running while they tended to a patient, and a suspect jumped inside and took off

By Caleb Downs
San Antonio Express-News

SAN ANTONIO — A man was arrested Thursday after he stole a San Antonio Fire Department vehicle, ran over a rider on a Bird scooter and caused a wreck that shut down Interstate 35.

According to San Antonio police, paramedics responding to call for a distressed person at a  Starbucks on St. Mary's and Houston streets around 8 a.m. left their Ford F-150 truck running outside while they tended to the victim.

Seizing on the opportunity, the suspect jumped inside and took off, said San Antonio Police Chief William McManus.

He circled the block a few times and then returned to the Starbucks, where the paramedics confronted him. He ignored them and then took off through the southern part of downtown.

McManus said the man hit several vehicles along the way and damaged a significant amount of property.

"I'm told that downtown in the area where he first took the vehicle is a mess with other cars that were struck and property damaged. They're trying to sort through that right now," McManus said.

At one point, he ran over 26-year-old Nathan Cortez, who was riding a scooter at the time.

"I waved at him at first because I thought he was a first responder," Cortez said. "I was just trying to be nice."

With lights and sirens blazing, the suspect made a U-turn and drove straight at Cortez.

Cortez moved off the street to make way, assuming the ambulance truck would just speed past.

"He comes towards me, towards the pole, and he hits me and the scooter and the pole at the same time," he said.

Shaking, Cortez mapped out the crime scene. Bits of Bird scooter debris were scattered around, as was the rear view mirror of the truck.

Cortez was spared significant injuries, though he said his right arm was numb from pain.

BREAKING NEWS: I-35 northbound closed at Loop 1604 on northeast side of San Antonio due to police situation. Avoid the area.

BREAKING NEWS: I-35 northbound closed at Loop 1604 on northeast side of San Antonio due to police situation. Avoid the area.

Posted by News 4 San Antonio on Thursday, October 11, 2018

Meanwhile, the suspect drove onto Interstate 35 and headed northbound with police hot on his tail.

At Loop 1604 North, he sideswiped an 18-wheeler and crashed. Police attempted to arrest him, but he resisted and was forced into handcuffs.

McManus said it is unknown whether the suspect was intoxicated or suffered from mental health issues. He has an active arrest warrant for an alleged robbery, and he'll likely be booked into jail on several more charges stemming from the events of Thursday morning.

Interstate 35 was shut down for about an hour as authorities photographed the crime scene and tended to the suspects wounds. It has since reopened.

Copyright 2018 San Antonio Express-News


McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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