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Suspect faces multiple charges after stealing tow truck, smashing into 13 cars during pursuit

Witness recalls dangerous pursuit involving stolen MDOT tow truck
Witness recalls dangerous pursuit involving stolen MDOT tow truck 03:12

BALTIMORE -- A man who stole a Maryland State Highway Administration tow truck remained hospitalized Monday and now faces multiple charges.

Police say he struck 13 vehicles and injured two officers Friday night in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties. 

The incident lasted for roughly an hour.

Video shows the suspect driving with emergency lights on and pushing a car into a head on crash along U.S. Highway 29 just south of the Howard County line.

At one point, the driver goes the wrong way on the busy highway—smashing into more vehicles

During the pursuit, the driver even goes off road and snags power lines in a field near an office tower near I-95 in Beltsville.

It all began after the suspect, 27-year-old Flavio Cesar Lanuza, from Laurel, hit four vehicles on the D.C. Beltway then went into the Park and Ride near the I-95 interchange and stole the SHA tow truck that stopped to help.

The pursuit weaved through suburban neighborhoods along Route 29.

At one point, the suspect drove into an Exxon and narrowly missed manager Sandeep Singh's Acura.

"He might have been just about a couple inches away," Singh told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren.

Moments later, the suspect slammed into a Maryland State Trooper's vehicle and pushed it down the street. 

"One trooper is hurt," a colleague said on dispatch radio.

"Police were running here, there and everywhere," Singh said. "It was very crazy, risky. The whole side was rubbed off."

It ended about five miles away in a grassy area near another gas station, where police approached the tow truck with their guns drawn and took Lanuza into custody.

The tow truck had been towed away and the dirt was torn up in the area on Monday.

Pending charges against the suspect include reckless, negligent and aggressive driving, failure to stop, assault and theft.

The two police officers who were injured have now been released from the hospital, according to Maryland State Police.

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