What started off as a domestic disturbance call ended in a pantless, shirtless man hijacking an ambulance and getting shot by police as he weaved through the streets of Philadelphia in a wild chase Friday night.
The man, identified by police as 42-year-old Mark Giwerowski, was chased for more than an hour by dozens of police cruisers, evading them in numerous close calls and crashing into other vehicles along the way. Giwerowski initially stole the ambulance at the scene of a domestic disturbance incident, Philadelphia Police Department Capt. Sekou Kinebrew said.
The ordeal began shortly before 9 p.m. at the Roosevelt Inn on the 7600 block of Roosevelt Boulevard. Security at the hotel spotted a 43-year-old woman running from a room and screaming for help. Security personnel also spotted Giwerowski who was shirtless and bleeding from the face, leave the same room, investigators said.
The woman was taken to a safe spot in the building and security called 911.
Firefighters and medics arrived at the hotel and tried to treat Giweroswki's injuries, police said. Giwerowski was allegedly combative and firefighters called police for help.
Two Philadelphia police officers then arrived at the parking lot outside the hotel where they spotted Giwerowski yelling near the medics. Giwerowski then allegedly ran toward an ambulance, entered the driver's side door and tried to drive off.
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When the officers and firefighters tried to stop him, Giwerowski put the vehicle in reverse, investigators said. One of the officers was struck by the driver side door as Giwerowski drove off, according to police. Police said the ambulance then struck a police vehicle and nearly struck a second officer.
The first officer who was struck ordered Giwerowski to get out of the ambulance. Giwerowski allegedly ignored his commands and drove toward the officer. The officer then opened fire, shooting Giwerowski three times through the driver's door. Giwerowski continued driving southbound on Roosevelt Boulevard, police said.
Responding officers pursued, leading to a chase that spanned more than 20 miles through some of the city's busiest streets, including the boulevard, Cottman Avenue and Frankford Avenue.
NBC10's SkyForce helicopter captured much of the chase on video.
At one point, Giwerowski drove the ambulance through a gas station, squeezed through several police cruisers and slammed into another vehicle before again making a getaway down Frankford Avenue. Kinebrew said Giwerowski struck two police cruisers, with officers suffering no life-threatening injuries.
Giwerowski also stopped another time and appeared eager to end the chase. As police officers approached, he opened the door, but a second later, Giwerowski closed the door and drove off again, police said.
Joell Hilton of Greater Philadelphia Towing, was driving his tow truck when the ambulance struck his vehicle.
"I didn't even know it was stolen at first," Hilton said. "I'm thinking the paramedics just hit me and ran."
Hilton drove his tow truck and tried for about four minutes to get in front of the ambulance. The crane from the tow truck then struck and flattened one of the ambulance tires.
"I finally got the right tire and he was still going down to about 15 miles per hour," Hilton said. "I tried to take this part again to try and slam it into the radiator again to try and let it overheat."
Giwerowski continued driving for another 20 minutes with the flat tire, police said. Pursuing Pennsylvania State Troopers then deployed "spike strips" which flattened the other ambulance tires.
Giwerowski finally stopped on the 2700 block of Tolbut Street in the Rhawnhurst neighborhood, police said. He was shirtless and appeared to be wearing only underwear as officers used a taser on him.
Giwerowski was taken to Jefferson-Torresdale Hospital where he is listed in critical condition.
On Monday, police announced Giwerowski was charged with robbery, carjacking, unauthorized use of an auto, fleeing police, accident involving death or injury, aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and other related offenses.
The officer who was struck by the ambulance was taken to Nazareth Hospital where he was treated and released. He is a 27-year veteran.