Driver with child in vehicle arrested after high speed chase in Peterborough

By JESSECA TIMMONS

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript 

Published: 05-14-2024 5:54 PM

Modified: 05-14-2024 7:22 PM


While apprehending a suspect in the Monadnock Community Hospital parking lot following a chase through downtown Peterborough, Peterborough police officers found an unharmed a toddler in the back of the driver’s car. 

The suspect, Mario Cruz, 29, of Schiller Street, Manchester, was handcuffed and charged with endangering the welfare of a child; disobeying an officer; reckless operation of a vehicle; criminal mischief, for driving on and damaging the grass on a state highway; defective equipment and failure to yield several stop signs. Additional charges include improper child restraint, as the child’s car seat was not properly tethered to the seat; solid line violations and driving after suspension of license. Cruz was also charged with reckless conduct with a deadly weapon for crossing the center line with his vehicle and forcing a police officer off the road. 

“We are just very grateful that no one was injured in the course of this chase, no vehicles were damaged and that the suspect was taken into custody with no further incident,” Peterborough Police Chief Scott Guinard said Tuesday. 

According to Guinard, Master Patrolman Jesse Byam was doing a routine highway safety patrol on Granite Street near Wilton Road when he saw a 2007 Mazda CX-7 with defective brake lights. Cruz, the driver of the Mazda, refused to stop or acknowledge the officer in pursuit.

“Master Patrolman Byam drove the entire length of Granite Street in pursuit of the vehicle with blue lights flashing, but the vehicle still did not stop,” Guinard said.

According to Guinard, Cruz then turned left onto Elm St. at the five-way intersection, followed by turns onto River Street and back onto Main Street, at which point Chief Guinard, Lieutenant George Xenakis and Sergeant Joey Sweeney responded to the vicinity for backup. As Sgt. Sweeney approached Cruz’s car, the Mazda crossed the center line, forcing Sweeney off the road. Cruz then turned north onto Concord Street with Sweeney, Byam and Guinard in pursuit. 

“Once out of town, the suspect reached speeds of 70-75 mph on Concord Street heading northbound toward ConVal High School,” Chief Guinard said. “The suspect made a U-turn at Vose Farm Road, near the high school, and headed back toward town. At this point, our goal was to terminate the pursuit and prevent it from coming back into the center of town.”

ConVal High School Resource Officer Justin Hyland, upon hearing the radio traffic, responded from ConVal and joined the pursuit. 

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Guinard said Xenakis stopped traffic and deployed spike strips across Concord Street/Route 202, near the Strand Building, to stop the Mazda.  Cruz then turned left onto Parmelee Drive, verged onto the grass and into the woods, got back on Parmelee Drive and drove around the roundabout into the Monadnock Community Hospital parking lot, where officers cornered him in a parking spot and gave instructions for surrender. 

“We did not know who was in the vehicle, why they were fleeing or if they were armed. Due to the tinted windows, we could not see who was in the vehicle or how many people were in the vehicle. Upon apprehending the suspect, we saw there was a child of approximately 2-and-a-half-years old in a car seat in the rear of the vehicle,” Guinard said. “The child had not been harmed.”

The child was quickly reunited with the child’s mother, who was in the vicinity for unrelated reasons. 

Cruz is being held in preventative detention and was arraigned at the Jaffrey-Peterborough District Court by video linkup from the Valley Street Jail in Manchester on Tuesday afternoon. 

 The department is  asking anyone who may have witnessed this pursuit to please contact them at 603-924-8050.