Elderly man leads police on low speed chase from Broward to Palm Beach County

Posted at 6:06 AM, Sep 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-21 18:03:16-04
MANALAPAN, Fla. --   A low speed chase ended early Wednesday morning after police say an elderly man with dementia drove from Broward County into Palm Beach County.

Lauderhill police say officers were dispatched just before 7 p.m. Tuesday to investigate a man waving handguns at neighbors at 3350 NW 5 Place, and that he had fired a weapon.

"We heard the shot, maybe in the air, once. He was just walking up the street," said one neighbor who identified himself as Michael.

Arriving officers say neighbors identified the man as John Wesley, 86.

Police say they used a police car public address system and ordered him to drop his weapons.

They say he replied, “Shoot me!”

"One of the officers got on the PA (public address) and tried to order him to drop the guns. The male was mumbling and incoherent. He did say to the officer ‘shoot me,’ but the officer didn't, he showed a lot of restraint," said Lauderhill Police Department Major Rick Rocco.

Wesley then got into his green Toyota Sienna minivan and drove off, according to police.

They followed him through residential side streets along Broward Boulevard.

At the same time police contacted his family who said Wesley has dementia, was worried someone put a hit on him and that he is being poisoned.

Now aware that Wesley's problems were mental-health related, the decision was made to stop following him and alert other police agencies.

Wesley made his way through Deerfield Beach, Boca Raton, Highland Beach, and Delray Beach.

Officers eventually stopped him near the Manalapan border. According to police, there was a minor collision when he stopped. Police say he had two weapons on him.

He was hospitalized for a mental health evaluation under the Baker Act.

"I want to say I respect the fact the way they handled everything. You know, everything the way it went down, they were trying to calm him down, instead of take his life away,” said Michael.

The Lauderhill Police Department issued this statement:

In this instance all officers involved showed considerable restraint while employing sound tactics and decision making from the point of initial contact to the slow speed caravan. Fortunately officers had the time and opportunity to assess this slowly developing situation and accurately determine that Mr. Wesley’s actions were the result of his mental capacity. Thankfully this did not manifest itself into the need to utilize deadly force to stop him.


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