A band of juveniles, at least one of whom was armed, led police on a wild car chase through Southeast and Southwest Washington early yesterday before their car flipped over and crashed into a tree.
On three occasions, police officers fired after one or more of the juveniles pointed a gun or appeared to draw a weapon. No one was hit by the gunfire, but during the chase two patrol cars crashed, one into a tree and another into a parked car.
By the time the chase was over, about three miles had been covered and several cars had been wrecked. Five teenagers and five officers were injured as a result of the crashes. None of injuries was serious.
The chase began about 3:17 a.m. when a patrol car from the 7th District noticed a car with five youths driving north on the southbound side of 11th Street near Good Hope Road SE, police said.
The officer stopped the car on S Street near Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE. When he approached, one of five youths in the Mazda 323 pointed a gun at the officer, who drew his weapon and fired several times, said police, who provided the following account:
The car sped from the scene, and the officer radioed for help. Several patrol cars responded, including at least one with members of the new Rapid Deployment Unit, which was patrolling in Southeast.
At Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and S Street, the car was again stopped by police. One of the occupants pointed a weapon at two officers, who responded by firing one shot each.
Several minutes later, members of the Rapid Deployment Unit stopped the car at Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and South Capitol Street. When officers approached, one of the juveniles appeared to reach for something in his waistband, and one of the officers responded by firing one shot.
The car again sped away and headed south to Joliet Street SW, just off South Capitol Street. The driver struck several parked cars and apparently lost control of the Mazda, which crashed into a tree.
The five juveniles got out of the car and ran into nearby woods, where officers arrested them. They were taken to D.C. General Hospital, where they were treated for injuries resulting from the crash, then released to police.
No weapon was recovered, but investigators spent the day combing the woods where they believe at least one gun was discarded. Each of the suspects, whose names were not released because of their ages, was charged with assault on a police officer while armed.
One of the officers was admitted for observation to D.C. General Hospital. The other four were treated and released.