NEW DETAILS: Man steals HERO unit, leads police on chase through Atlanta, cops say

A man is in custody after stealing one of the Georgia Department of Transportation’s yellow HERO units and leading police on a chase through Atlanta, authorities said.

The incident began about 12:45 p.m. Thursday when Atlanta police responded to a crash on a ramp leading to the Downtown Connector, spokesman Sgt. John Chafee said. 

While investigating the wreck, an officer learned that one of the vehicle’s occupants, 19-year-old Vandale Fluker, had a warrant for his arrest, police said.

Before they could arrest him, police said Fluker jumped out of the car, ran across the interstate and got into the unoccupied emergency response unit.

The operator of the truck, a 20-year-old who had been on the job only about five months, tried to stop the man but ended up being dragged by his own vehicle, authorities said. He was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

After commandeering the HERO unit, Fluker got onto I-20 East, weaving in and out of traffic as several state troopers joined in the chase, police said. During the pursuit, police said Fluker used the emergency vehicle to crash into seven patrol cars. 

The chase came to an end when he exited the interstate at Columbia Drive in DeKalb County and was pinned in by police.

Chafee said Fluker was wanted on a fraud charge in DeKalb and a larceny charge in Cherokee County. Officers who responded to the initial crash recovered a firearm and a bag of marijuana that he allegedly threw to the ground while running, Chafee said.

The 19-year-old is charged with obstruction, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, possession of marijuana, aggravated assault, pedestrian on closed access highway, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and theft by taking, according to police.

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