120-mph robber chase ends with car off road

Sunday Times Newspapers

It took two cities’ police forces and 10 miles of roadway to capture 35-year-old Tyrone Watkins of Detroit, who had just robbed a local bank.

About 12:30 p.m. Aug. 20, a man described as a black male in a white T-shirt and driving a black 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix robbed TCF Bank,16350 Fort St. in Southgate.

Downriver Central Dispatch made the call to all Southgate and Wyandotte patrol units to keep an eye out for the suspect.

A Wyandotte officer in the parking lot of CVS/pharmacy on the southeast corner of Fort and North Line Road saw the suspect traveling north in the described Grand Prix. The officer turned out of the parking lot to follow the suspect’s vehicle north.

The officer saw Watkins observe the patrol car’s presence, which resulted in the quick maneuver of the Grand Prix – which is registered to a Southgate woman – across two lanes of traffic to get into the turnaround for southbound Fort.

At that point a Southgate officer also joined the chase.

Watkins saw southbound traffic stopped at a red light and turned the Grand Prix into the 7-Eleven on the northwest corner of Fort and North Line. He slowed down as if he was going to park the vehicle.

The Wyandotte officer turned on his car’s emergency lights, at which point the Grand Prix accelerated through the parking lot and into westbound traffic on North Line. Both officers pursued the vehicle west at speeds exceeding 80 miles per hour as it weaved throughout traffic.

After disregarding a red light at Dix-Toledo Road, Watkins sped up to faster than 100 mph while disregarding a red light at Fordline and nearly colliding with a white convertible that was turning left off Fordline onto westbound North Line.

He was forced to slow down at the I-75 interchange and nearly collided with two other vehicles. Watkins then maneuvered around others and onto northbound I-75.

The Grand Prix accelerated to more than 120 mph while weaving through traffic. Watkins temporarily slowed down as if he was getting off at the Outer Drive exit, but cut off several vehicles to merge back onto northbound I-75.

Pursuit continued as the Grand Prix forcibly turned off I-75 at the Schaefer Road exit, but Watkins was unable to control his vehicle at the high speed he was traveling and the car left the roadway off the left edge of the ramp, going over a curb and hitting a large amount of gravel.

Officers briefly lost sight of the vehicle as it hit the gravel and kicked up debris, but the car had rolled over at least once when leaving the road and coming to a stop.

When the dust settled, officers ordered Watkins out of the vehicle and to the ground at gunpoint.

He was handcuffed and a large amount of money and a loaded black semiautomatic handgun were found at the scene.

(Contact Chris Jackett at cjackett@bewickpublications.com)