ST. PETERSBURG — A 30-year-old man went on what police called a crime spree in two stolen cars early Tuesday that ended with a police chase, downed power line and chaotic morning traffic on Fifth Avenue N near the Interstate 275 on-ramp.
According to St. Petersburg police, Amer Nuhanovic drove two stolen cars on his jaunt across the city and tried to take several more. No one was hurt except Nuhanovic, who received medical treatment after a police dog caught him to take him into custody, police spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez said.
The first report came in at 2:43 a.m. Tuesday from someone who told police that a person who turned out to be Nuhanovic had been asleep in a white Chevrolet Suburban for more than an hour at a gas pump at the Speedway at 3225 34th Street N.
Officers ran the tag and got a hit that the car had been stolen out of Pasco County, police said. They placed a stop stick — a tire deflation device used by police to stop cars — in front of the car and tried to get Nuhanovic out of the car.
He drove away, continuing on after the stop stick damaged a tire, police said. Officers found the car, empty, near 22nd Avenue N and 28th Street.
Then someone else called police to report a driver in a Dodge Ram pickup truck driving recklessly at 83rd Avenue N and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street. The truck was spotted again at 62nd Avenue N and Fourth Street, police said.
Officers used more stop sticks, which disabled some of the tires, but Nuhanovic continued, next spotted at Fifth Avenue N and 16th Street blocking a car. He got out of the truck and tried to get into the car he was blocking, but that driver drove away. He then tried unsuccessfully to get into three more cars, police said.
He got back into the Dodge Ram and drove the wrong way on Fifth Avenue N, intentionally crashing into the side of several cars, police said. Supervisors authorized a chase “to stop him from carjacking and harming innocent people,” police said in a news release. Police pursuits are generally only authorized in cases in which there is a clear and present danger to the public.
Police blocked his path, and he crashed into a power pole at Fifth Avenue N and 24th Street, causing the power line to come down. He got out of the truck and ran away, police said, but a police dog caught him.
Nuhanovic at some point stole a third car, a Toyota Camry, and was also linked to an April 7 home burglary, Fernandez said.
He faces three car theft charges, two fleeing and eluding charges, and one count each of resisting an officer without violence and burglary.