SEATTLE — As a 24-year-old wanted suspect led dozens of police cars on a wild high-speed chase from Bellevue to Renton to South Seattle Wednesday, the speeding driver nearly slammed into Scott Tanner and his wife, who were in the HOV lanes of I-405.
"It was one of the most surreal things I've ever been involved with in my life," said Tanner, who believed the driver of the black Jeep Grand Cherokee was "road raging," so Tanner slowed the suspect down, refusing to allow him to pass as police caught up.
"I just thought it was an outraged driver," Tanner said. "I didn't put two and two together yet about a chase. The guy was behind our vehicle, honking at us, and at that point I was giving him some of my ideas of what I thought about his driving."
Tanner believes he forced the frustrated suspect to veer over several lanes to and exit, where he sped recklessly, and was captured by police while trying to carjack another driver's minivan at 23rd Ave S. and Rainer Ave. S.
"He swerved from lane number four, all the way to the shoulder, cut up and took an exit. It was absolutely crazy," Tanner said.
Police say the chase started shortly after 10 a.m. in Bellevue after police were called to a domestic violence incident. Police said a man drove a car into a building trying to get to his former girlfriend inside. She has minor injuries.
When officers arrived, the man fled. Chopper 7 recorded video of the suspect speeding southbound on Interstate 405 as Bellevue officers followed.
Only Chopper 7 was overhead as the suspect drove through Eastside neighborhoods, then ran lights on Rainier Avenue South in Seattle. During the chase, the suspect drove into oncoming lanes, swerved around traffic and hit other cars as he fled.
When he reached Rainier Avenue South and South 23rd Street, the driver stopped and got out of the battered Jeep, perhaps because of a breakdown. KIRO 7 video showed one of the Jeep's rear tires was blown out and shredded. The Jeep's front end and side were also damaged, perhaps in the earlier crash into the building.
The suspect then ran to a silver minivan stopped at a traffic light, yanked open its door, got in and tried to carjack the driver as police moved in immediately, Chopper 7 video showed.
Officers pulled the victim driver out of the driver's side of the van as others pulled the suspect out from the passenger's side door.
Numerous officers took the suspect down to the ground.
He was arrested about 10:50 a.m. and identified as 24-year-old Arik Knapik.
Bellevue police said he broke down the door of his ex-girlfriend’s apartment, assaulted her and tried to kidnap her. When she escaped to a manager’s office, police said he rammed the building.
He then sideswiped one or two cars near the Lake Hills Connector/Richards Road in Bellevue, according to officers.
Bellevue police said they made the decision to pursue the driver because he is wanted on a felony warrant involving an earlier shooting in Renton.
It wasn't until after Tanner heard about the driver's arrest and criminal history that he realized the danger he faced by slowing down the speeding suspect.
"I am surprised that nobody got hurt or killed today," he said.
Cox Media Group