An Oak Ridge Police Department officer was injured in a crash and children were taken to the hospital after a fugitive crashed a car as he fled from police on Wednesday, authorities said.
The ORPD learned that a known felony suspect was in the area just before 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, the City of Oak Ridge said in a press release.Shortly after they received the information, officers located the vehicle that they believed contained the fugitive and they attempted to conduct a traffic stop near the intersection of South Illinois Avenue and Woodland Terrace.
But the driver refused to stop, entered the Panera Bread and Aubrey’s Restaurant parking area and proceeded through the lot at an unsafe rate of speed, striking at least one other vehicle, the city said.
The fugitive, Khristoff Lee, was initially a passenger in the vehicle, but he forced the female driver to switch seats with him upon seeing officers, the press release said.
After taking the wheel of the vehicle and attempting to evade police who had blocked the exit of the Panera Bread parking lot, Lee drove over a curb and back onto South Illinois Avenue, the release said. When he entered the roadway, Lee failed to stop at the red light and collided with an oncoming vehicle. The oncoming vehicle then crashed into an Oak Ridge Police officer’s patrol unit, the press release said.
After the crash, Lee exited his vehicle and fled on foot toward Panera Bread. Officers in pursuit observed him make numerous attempts to forcibly open the doors of occupied vehicles in the Panera Bread drive-thru lane. With no success, Lee continued to run from officers again, but he was quickly taken into custody without further incident. Passengers from Lee’s vehicle, including two children, were transported to Methodist Medical Center for evaluation, the press release said.
The police officer who was driving the unit that was struck was also taken to MMC for evaluation and then transported to UT Medical Center’s Trauma Center for further treatment. The officer’s canine partner was also checked by a veterinarian for injuries.
The Oak Ridge Police Department has charged Lee with three counts of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, two counts of reckless endangerment, one count of aggravated domestic assault, one count of evading arrest, and one count of resisting stop, halt, and arrest. Additional charges will be filed as the investigation continues.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol is investigating the crash. No further information will be released by ORPD at this time, the press release said.
More information will be added as it becomes available.