Police: Man fled scene, crashed through gate

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

The UHaul truck found crashed into a fence at Roberts Towing. Tom Marra/For Capital Region Independent Media

COEYMANS — An Albany man wanted out of Coeymans who allegedly led police on several high-speed pursuits through three police jurisdictions and is accused of stealing a vehicle from a tow yard Christmas morning was caught two weeks later, police said.

On Wednesday, Jan. 12, police arrested Justin Wells, 32, of Albany, putting a two-week search to an end at a hotel in the city of Albany, according to the Albany County Sheriff’s Office. 

Police were called to a home in Coeymans Hollow on Dec. 25 for a report of a man allegedly making threats to the homeowner about damaging a vehicle just before 11 a.m., according to police radio traffic. 

The individual, reported to be wanted out of the town of Coeymans and possibly armed with a knife, fled the scene in a UHaul pickup truck before police arrived. 

Dispatch advised police the driver had active bench warrants for third-degree criminal possession and second-degree drug paraphernalia, as well as having a suspended driver’s license. 

Police spotted the vehicle in Ravena and attempted to perform a traffic stop when the driver reportedly refused to pull over and started a pursuit through the village of Ravena from the area of Routes 143 and 9W. 

The driver was fleeing from police at 40 mph down Main Street through the village of Ravena, according to police radio traffic. 

He turned onto Westerlo Street and then onto Civill Avenue in Coeymans, where deputies performed a felony high-risk traffic stop on the vehicle. 

A high-risk traffic stop is performed following a pursuit or when a suspect is wanted for a felony and/or believed to be armed and dangerous. 

Deputies stated over the radio that he was attempting to pick up a woman while stopped at the high-risk traffic stop. The woman was not identified.

They then radioed dispatch stating the man had taken off from the traffic stop in the vehicle and was now racing northbound on Route 144 in Coeymans. 

Speeds were reported to be upwards of 90 mph when deputies advised dispatch to notify Bethlehem Police to send units along Route 144. 

A side mirror found outside Roberts Towing. Tom Marra/Capital Region Independent Media

While in the town of Bethlehem, sheriff’s deputies ended the pursuit as they were losing sight of the vehicle, according to police radio traffic. 

Bethlehem Police began to search for the vehicle when an officer spotted a UHaul truck crashed into the fence of Roberts Towing, located at 722 South Pearl St. in Albany.

The officer radioed dispatch, stating the driver was seen climbing over the fence to get into the tow yard. 

Officers were said to have seen the suspect running inside the yard to the other side of one of the buildings. 

Police then stated the man was getting into a maroon Chevy Silverado inside the tow yard and then frantically radioed dispatch after he reportedly drove the truck through the front gate and sped northbound down South Pearl Street. 

Bethlehem Police began to follow the driver, now engaging another pursuit, when officers lost sight of the vehicle in Albany, according to police radio. 

Albany Police and state police were notified as it was unclear if the vehicle continued down South Pearl Street or turned onto Interstate 787. 

Officers found the vehicle, unoccupied, in the rear of the Salvation Army tucked behind the building located at 20 South Ferry St. in Albany, just off Interstate 787. 

A mirror from the truck driven out the front gate at Roberts Towing was broken off in the road. The vehicle found at the Salvation Army was missing a side mirror and the plate came back registered to one of the owners of Roberts Towing. 

The owner of this vehicle heard of the incident and contacted OnStar to turn off power to the vehicle. 

The suspect was seen wearing a black hoodie, black face mask and white sunglasses at the time of the incident on Christmas morning. 

Wells was arrested Jan. 12, at a hotel in Albany, according to the Albany County Sheriff’s Office. 

Justin D. Wells, 32

Wells is charged with second-degree grand larceny and second-degree criminal possession of stolen property, both class C felonies; second-degree criminal mischief, a class D felony; second-degree bail jumping, a class E felony; resisting arrest, a class A misdemeanor; seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a class A misdemeanor; and third-degree criminal trespass, a class B misdemeanor, according to the sheriff’s office. 

Wells was arraigned in Albany City Court on Thursday, Jan. 13, and was remanded to the Albany County Correctional Facility. 

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