The man that police identified as the primary suspect in, and as justification for, carrying out a two-state pursuit that left a child seriously hurt and several cops hospitalized may not have been in the car authorities were chasing.
Uncertainty about the occupants of a black Acura that caused chaos along Interstate 95 came a day after police followed the sedan nearly 30 miles from Wilmington, Delaware, to South Philadelphia. In its wake were two crashes and a huge manhunt.
Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy said Thursday that his department can't be certain Dejuan Robinson — the man identified as the suspect in Wednesday's chase — was ever involved.
"Whether he was in the car, I cannot confirm because we did not apprehend him," Tracy said at a news conference highlighting Wilmington's reduction in crime during 2018.
Tracy said his officers had "intelligence" that Robinson, who is a person of interest in several Delaware homicides, was in the luxury sedan they pulled over at 12th and Northeast streets shortly after 11 a.m. Wednesday. The driver sped off prompting police to follow.
"I can't tell you if [officers] could tell through tinted windows how many people were in the vehicle," Tracy said.
"We don't know if it was him or someone just as dangerous."
The chase upended a Philadelphia neighborhood and shut down a busy stretch of Interstate 95.
Boy, 3, Critically Hurt in Two-State Chase from Del. to PA
A three-year-old is fighting for his life after the car he was traveling in was caught in the middle of a high-speed police chase that started in Delaware and ended in South Philadelphia. The crash happened along Interstate 95.(Published Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019)
After speeding up the highway and crossing into Pennsylvania, the Acura, with Wilmington officers and Pennsylvania state troopers in tow, clipped a car near Philadelphia International Airport causing a chain reaction crash. A Wilmington police cruiser flipped over. Five officers were injured. A 3-year-old boy in the clipped car suffered a fractured skull, his mother said Thursday.
The suspects escaped the crash unscathed and continued driving to the Broad Street exit, police believe. They drove a couple more blocks before crashing into the side of a SEPTA bus at Broad Street and Oregon Avenue in South Philadelphia. Two men bailed from the car after the crash, according to witnesses, and ran down nearby side streets. Philadelphia police then carried out a manhunt — searching streets and alleys with long guns and scouring dumpsters and parking garages around Methodist Hospital.
After hours of searching, police never found the men.
Robinson is currently on probation for weapons violations. A scan of his Facebook page on Wednesday showed no posts from that day. The profile was taken down a short time later. He's also evaded police before. In 2015, he escaped Wilmington police's custody.
Two other men were captured at a different point in the chase, Tracy said. They are still being questioned and have not been charged.
Tracy defended police's choice to pursue the car, but added that he wants to review the decision-making process and policies covering pursuits.
"Someone that just led us on a high-speed chase, caused crashes on I-95, crashed into a bus and then even witnesses said that [they] were jumping out of the vehicle as it was hitting the bus, this is a desperate individual," Tracy said.
"I'm not sitting here excusing this, but I have to go back and review what happened."