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Stolen Police Car Crashes Inside Port Tunnel

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - A man stole a police car and led officers on a chase right into the Port Miami Tunnel, police said Monday.

It all started, according to police, when Miami-Dade officers were performing a protective detail for Julian Castro, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development who was staying at a South Florida hotel.

"Once we knew the dignitary was on the move and ready to go, vehicles are turned on so that way we have easy access and are ready to move once the dignitary is inside his vehicle," explained Detective Alvaro Zabaleta with Miami-Dade Police.

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As police cars were running, officers say Russell McGruder, 34, jumped behind the wheel of a patrol car and took off. Officers followed him down Biscayne Boulevard and into the port tunnel.

Russell McGruder
Officers say Russell McGruder, 34, jumped behind the wheel of a patrol car and took off. (Source: MDPD)

"We're talking about somebody who took a police car, went into the tunnel that leads into a sensitive infrastructure like the Port of Miami where we have passengers and we have cargo and we need to stop that threat," said Zabaleta.

According to Zabaleta, an officer crashed into the stolen car to stop it, but then McGruder allegedly got out of the car and sprayed some sort of chemical at officers. He was taken into custody and police say he was taken to the hospital for minor injuries.

He is expected to face a number of charges including grand theft, fleeing and eluding, reckless driving, aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, battery on a law enforcement officer, and resisting arrest.

"This is an individual that we still have no idea what his intentions were onto the port why he did what he had to do and the officers had to utilize whatever necessary use of force in order to take him into custody," said Zabaleta.

Castro, who is in town to promote small businesses, did not address the incident but did tweet about meeting a small business owner in Miami. "Always great to meet local #smallbiz owners like Mr. Hagen Taudt, owner of Oliver's Bistro in Miami #DreamSmallBiz."

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