NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police captured an escaped prisoner in Harlem on Monday afternoon after he led officers on a wild chase on the streets and underground.
Vincens Vuktilaj, 18, was apprehended as he exited the subway station at West 135th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue around 3:30 p.m., after he was on the loose for about five hours, CBS 2’s Don Champion reported.
Surveillance video exclusively obtained by CBS 2 showed Vuktilaj making a desperate and handcuffed run for freedom. A store surveillance camera captured him running off barefoot with his hands behind his back.
Moments earlier, Vuktilaj’s father watched as his son managed to escape from police as he was being taken into custody.
“He come in the lobby, he left,” Preke Vuktilaj, said.
The suspect’s father said he yelled after his son and called his name, but to no avail, 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported.
“Maybe he make accident now. He’s arrested,” Preke Vuktilaj said. “I don’t know.”
Investigators said the cuffed Vincens Vuktilaj went down a main stairwell at the apartment building, shoved an officer, and ran off around 147th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue in Hamilton Heights at 10:14 a.m.
The mad dash was enough to make him jump out of his shoes, which were used by a K-9 unit in the search.
Vuktilaj ran into the 145th Street A, C, B and D line subway station, police said. His escape prompted numerous suspensions of service along all four lines, particularly after a train operator had reported a man walking on the tracks.
The search left passengers on the affected trains stranded. One A train was stuck between stations when power was cut off.
“I hope they caught that guy, but don’t fire me from work,” one passenger said. “We’ve been in here two hours.”
“They said they were investigating a matter and evacuated us to this train, and that’s about it,” another passenger said.
A rescue train was sent to get the people on that train out of the subway.
Meanwhile, police swarmed the area. Kamel Alzanam, who works at a deli near the station, said he watched police come from all directions.
“That’s the crazy thing. He was in handcuffs and he ran,” Alzanam said.
Vuktilaj’s run from the law eventually ended 10 blocks away from where he was arrested.
Sources told CBS 2 when he was arrested, Vuktilaj’s had his handcuffs in front, so he somehow he managed to pull them from behind.
His father said he wants justice if his son is guilty.
“I want to say to him, ‘Come and go in prison.’ If lawyer say no guilty, come home; guilty go to jail,” Vuktilaj’s father said.
Vuktilaj was arrested on grand larceny charges related to a series of chain-snatching robberies largely targeting elderly people in the Bronx. He was arraigned over the weekend and posted $2,500 bail, but was being arrested again after he was connected to another case, police said.
A 93-year-old woman was among the alleged victims of the chain snatchings.
Preke Vuktilaj did not believe his son was responsible for the crimes.
“My son is not on video, not on video,” he said. “It’s somebody else, I don’t know.”
After the suspect was apprehended, an ambulance took him to an area hospital for cuts and bruises, CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis reported.
Vuktilaj was hit with new charges of assault and escape Monday afternoon.
He has prior arrests for trespassing, turnstile jumping, grand larcenies, and shooting at birds and people with a BB gun at Orchard Beach in the Bronx, law enforcement sources told Rincon.
His family used to live in the Bronx neighborhood where the chain snatchings happened, and moved to Hamilton Heights 14 months ago. The suspect’s father is a porter at the apartment building, while his mother is a hotel maid, according to the building superintendent.
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