Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

High-speed chase in New Jersey involves Gaithersburg teen, stolen car

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A Gaithersburg teen was part of a high-speed police chase on the New Jersey Turnpike last week that ended when the stolen car she was riding in swerved and struck a tree, New Jersey State Police said.

Driver Knycoe Markiese Johnson, 19, of North Bergen, N.J., and the 15-year-old female passenger of Gaithersburg, whose identity was not released because she is a minor, suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the Aug. 22 chase, said police Lt. John Cuzzupe, commander of the New Jersey State Police Moorestown station.

The Gaithersburg teen was charged as a juvenile with assisting in taking the vehicle and was released to her family, Cuzzupe said.

Johnson was arrested and charged with eluding police, possession of stolen property, endangering the welfare of a minor, possession of a weapon and unlawfully transporting a firearm, Cuzzupe said.

The series of events began when a Honda Accord was reported stolen to Gaithersburg police shortly after midnight Aug. 22 from the 400 block of Christopher Avenue, near Route 355 and Montgomery Village Avenue.

At about 2:45 p.m. that day on the New Jersey Turnpike, a state trooper who had received a report of the stolen vehicle ran a check on the Honda’s license plate, Cuzzupe said.

The driver gave chase when the trooper attempted to pull him over, he said. The 120-mph chase lasted three minutes and covered 6 miles, ending when the Honda went off the road on an S-curve exit and struck a tree. The engine then caught fire, he said.

The trooper pulled Johnson from the front seat, while the girl exited on her own, Cuzzupe said.

Johnson received moderate injuries, while the Gaithersburg girl had minor injuries, he said.

Police discovered a 20-gauge shotgun in the car, he said. It is unknown if the gun was stolen.

As of Friday, Johnson is being held at Camden County Jail in New Jersey in lieu of $50,358 bond, a jail representative said.