A Fultondale woman said she is thankful she wasn’t injured or killed in an early-morning robbery attempt that led to a wrong-way police chase on Interstate 65 Thursday.
A suspect is in custody awaiting formal charges after he was finally stopped after leading police on the pursuit that began in Fultondale and ended in north Birmingham.
Timika Eutsey said she was on her way to work at her new bakery and event venue – Glitz and Glam Treats – on U.S. 280.
She stopped at the Shell service station on Decatur Highway to make a purchase shortly before 2:30 a.m. Her 19-year-old son was with her.
She said she noticed a man standing outside the gas station talking to another woman but paid him little attention.
His car, she said, showed signs of having been damaged in a recent wreck – the airbag had deployed.
Another woman was there claiming he had hit her as well.
As Eutsey got into her car to leave, she said the suspect bumped her car with his vehicle. “He was trying to keep me from leaving,’’ she said.
He then pulled up alongside her and demanded all her money. “I’m trying to hurry and get away,’’ she said.
Eutsey said she knew a spot where there was always a Fultondale police car stationed, so she tried to make her way there.
The suspect, she said, was following her and the woman he had previously hit was following him.
“I’m trying to lead him to the police,’’ she said.
There wasn’t a police officer there, so she made a U-turn and called 911.
“He was targeting women,’’ she said. “I was so shook up and nervous.”
Eutsey stayed on the phone with the dispatcher and saw multiple police responding to her call for help.
Fultondale Police Chief Marcel Walker said they had a description of the suspect vehicle, which was quickly located. Officers tried to stop him, but he fled and the chase was on.
Officers were able to stop the suspect from getting on I-65 initially, but he then drove through a grassy area and a ravine, getting onto the interstate and traveling southbound in the northbound lanes.
The pursuit lasted about three miles until officers used their push bars to box him at a guardrail near 32nd Avenue in Birmingham.
Push bars are fitted to the chassis of the car, augmenting the front bumper to allow the car to be used as a battering ram or to push disabled vehicles off the road.
Push bar use is different than a PIT maneuver, which wasn’t used, Walker said.
The suspect resisted arrest, the chief said, and was ultimatly hit with a Taser stun gun and subdued.
No injuries were reported throughout the entire ordeal.
“We don’t want to chase anybody on wrong side of road and put everybody in danger, but we just couldn’t let that go,’’ Walker said. “We felt obligated to stop him. We thank God nobody was injured or killed.”
Eutsey said she was thankful the police were able to catch him. She went to the scene and saw him handcuffed on the side of the road, and later went to the police station to identify him.
She said she wants other women to be aware of their surroundings and to not travel alone at night or stop before their destination.
“It could have gotten out of control. He could have had a gun…I could have had a gun and shot him,’’ she said. “I never in my life experienced anything like that in my life.”