The suspect has now been charged with more than a dozen violations.
The incident occurred around 8:45 a.m. local time on Tuesday, July 6, in Worcester, Massachusetts, about 42 miles west of Boston. The Worcester Police Department said it received a call to 911 regarding a stolen van in the east of the city.
When the police arrived at the scene, they spoke with the man who made the call and he informed them that a woman, whom he said he did not know, got into his vehicle and left. But he told officers his van had GPS and he could see its location.
As officers made their way to the area of the stolen vehicle, they were reported by another driver who told them their car had been hit by the van a few minutes earlier, police said.
With that information and the vehicle’s GPS tracking, it didn’t take long for officers to find the suspect – identified as Johanna Gardell, 38, of Worcester – in the stolen van just a few blocks away.
But the pursuit did not end there.
“The officer turned on his blue lights, got out of his patrol car and approached the stolen vehicle,” the Worcester Police Department said in a statement on the XX (just day, no full date needed) . “The operator… left as the agent walked up to her.” The officer got back into her patrol car and followed her at a low speed, but she did not stop. Ms. Gardell started to increase her speed on Main St and went through the red lights. The officer turned off her lights and sirens and stopped following her for safety reasons.
Gardell then encountered heavy traffic before deciding to cross the wrong lane, as well as oncoming traffic, and then ended up getting into a van with the stolen van, police said.
“At this point, two officers working in a detail and another officer in the area approached the vehicle in an attempt to extract Ms Gardell,” the Worcester Police Department said. “She backed up the vehicle at high speed and struck a cruiser behind her, and knocked over and dragged one of the retail officers. Officers chased the stolen vehicle at low speed before the chase was called off for security reasons. “
Gardell then went into the drive-thru of a nearby McDonald’s restaurant to attempt to order food, but officers were again able to locate her and attempt to arrest her, police said.
Officers approached her in two vehicles, but she intentionally collided with one before pulling off the road and trapping the stolen van in a pile of mulch that was on McDonald’s property, police said.
Officers were then able to get Gardell out of the vehicle as she fought and struggled with them during the arrest, police said.
Gardell faces a litany of charges including failure to stop for police, leaving the scene of an accident with bodily harm, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, malicious mischief towards a motor vehicle, disturbance of the peace, disorderly driving and use of a motor vehicle without authority, among many others.
The Worcester Police Department said Gardell will now be brought to justice and the investigation into the incident is ongoing.