ATTLEBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — Two bank robbery suspects are in custody after leading police on a pair of dramatic car chases Friday afternoon that snarled traffic and resulted in multiple crashes.
Dong Lee, 48, of Providence, and Charles Wheeler, 47 of Weymouth, were both arrested and charged with receiving stolen property and receiving a stolen motor vehicle.
A Massachusetts State Police cruiser crashed on Route 1 in Attleboro during the pursuit, sending a trooper to the hospital with minor injuries.
State police spokesperson David Procopio said police first spotted a white Toyota Avalon in Foxboro around 3:45 p.m. that was possibly connected to two bank robberies in southeastern Massachusetts, and tried to pull the car over.
The Toyota fled, leading police on a chase down I-495 and I-95 southbound before crashing on the Exit 5 ramp. Police said the suspects may have been armed and ran into the woods.
Troopers captured Lee but police said Wheeler got away, running to a Gulf station in North Attleboro and stealing a gold Honda Civic. An employee there told Eyewitness News the car’s owner had left it at the pump while she went inside to pay for gas.
Wheeler was spotted driving the car on Route 1 in Attleboro, according to Procopio, and police tried to pull him over. Instead, Wheeler allegedly turned around and started driving the wrong way, going southbound on the northbound side as police sped after him.
“He was flying down Route 1,” recalled Paul Silva, who said he was in his car when the Honda drove past him. He saw the suspect’s face.
“It looked like he just didn’t care, that’s what it looked like,” Silva said.
A state police cruiser involved in the chase crashed into a car and a light pole in the Friendly’s parking lot on Route 1, sending the pole crashing to the ground.
“We were inside having lunch and some ice cream with the kids, and all of the sudden he just smashed into the sign and all the dirt went over the window, it was just intense,” said Maureen Correia of Seekonk, who was inside the restaurant. “It sounded like a bomb went off…it was absolutely crazy.”
Wheeler’s car was eventually stopped near the state line, according to police. He had to be subdued with an electronic control weapon before being taken into custody.
Police said Lee was taken to the hospital for minor injuries. The two men are still being investigated and more charges are likely.