A suspect led police on a 2-state chase that went on for more than two hours Monday night and while there are still a lot of questions about the chase, no innocent civilians were injured.
“Obviously, he had some driving skills, but he shouldn't have been using them in that manner. He could have killed somebody. That's the bottom line,” said Philadelphia Police Department Commissioner Richard Ross.
Police say Robert Ritter was wanted on several outstanding warrants, including one for a recent strong arm robbery in Brooklawn and domestic violence violations. He now faces aggravated assault and reckless endangerment charges after he struck two Philadelphia police cars.
“Fortunately, no one was hurt. It's remarkable for the amount of time the pursuit lasted,” said Ross.
The chase ended when a Pennsylvania State Trooper used a tactical maneuver to knock the suspect’s vehicle off the roadway near the airport. Ritter had already eluded police attempts to box him in and stop him.
“There were some things that were clearly done correctly and some other things that probably warrant some further scrutiny,” Ross explained.
Questions arose during and after the chase. Should it have gone on for so long? Should Oaklyn officers have broken off the chase once it crossed into Philadelphia and then back into South Jersey. Oaklyn’s police chief did not want to be interviewed Tuesday. In a press release, he said, "All officers should be commended for a job well done.”
Philadelphia police say Ritter's speed never topped 35 mph inside city limits. At one point, State Police used stop sticks trying to blow out the suspect's tires, but the only tires that got blown out were on State Police and Oaklyn police cruisers.
“We have policies against ramming, blocking, things like that .We typically don't get involved, actually we don't,’ said Ross.
The Philadelphia police helicopter also played a vital role in the chase, directing ground pursuit and keeping officers advised on the suspect's whereabouts during the chase.
“Obviously, the helicopter's got to help out. They get a better view than anybody else,” Ross explained.