A man wanted on a federal warrant for failing to appear for sentencing in an aggravated assault case set off a wild chase that started in New Jersey and ended on the Brooklyn side of the Verrazano Bridge when he tried to flee the U.S. Marshals searching for him, authorities say.
Chopper 4 exclusively captured the dramatic sequence of events Tuesday.
It started when a U.S. Marshals task force working with the Monmouth County Sheriff's Office went to a home in Old Bridge, New Jersey to act on a lead they'd gotten on 41-year-old Anthony Mazza, the U.S. Marshals' Regional New York/New Jersey Task Force said.
The officers were staking out the home when the suspect's vehicle appeared, with Mazza in the front passenger seat, according to authorities. A woman was driving the car, and another man was in the backseat.
Mazza apparently noticed the Marshals, and the car took off, authorities said. The task force officers attempted to pull over the vehicle in a traffic stop, and as they got close, Mazza allegedly pushed the woman out of the car and onto the road.
Mazza took off in the vehicle, and U.S. Marshals gave pursuit. He was believed to be dangerous, sources said.
The woman was found to be OK.
As the car approached the Garden State Parkway, the U.S. Marshals reached out to New Jersey State Police, who took over the pursuit, according to the Marshals. As Mazza went onto the Outerbridge Crossing into Staten Island, Port Authority police were then notified, and they tried to set up roadblocks on the New York side.
Mazza managed to avoid the roadblocks and continued onto the Verrazano Bridge and into Brooklyn, at which point the NYPD and MTA police got involved, according to authorities.
Police radio transmissions obtained by NBC 4 New York reveal officers communicating urgently to have the bridge closed.
"Could you have the highway shut down please? And notify TBTA to shut the bridge," one dispatch stated.
TBTA is short for Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, the legal name for the MTA.
Chopper 4 showed nearly half a dozen vehicles, many with sirens blaring, zipping across the span of the Verrazano and on residential streets before the runaway vehicle crashed on the Brooklyn side shortly after 2 p.m.
The runaway car wove to either side of the road as it tried to evade the police cars and managed to separate from the cruisers for a moment on the Brooklyn side of the span before police caught up.
Chopper 4 showed the getaway car and the law enforcement vehicles speed past other cars in the Bath Beach neighborhood, including ones stopped at a traffic light, before a marked police car bumped into the getaway car from behind.
A person in a red shirt was seen getting out of the passenger side of the vehicle and trying to run after the crash. Mazza momentarily appeared to try to flee again, but the banged-up car couldn't go far.
MTA Bridges & Tunnels officers surrounded the vehicle and took Mazza into custody on 14th Avenue, the agency said. The person in the red shirt, identified as Timothy Isaksan, was also apprehended.
Resident Danny Castillo was inside his home when he heard the chase-ending crash that wrecked his red van parked outside.
"I hear 'boom, boom, boom,' he hit three cars here. I see cops and helicopters everywhere," he told NBC 4 New York. "They ran out and chase some guy."
"It was unbelievable, I've never seen anything like that happen, over here, especially," said Castillo.
Local police protocol for chases generally calls for a balance between apprehension and maintaining public safety.
Mazza was charged with eluding and aggravated assault on police, and Isaksan was charged with obstruction. They were first taken into custody at the 68th Precinct station in Bay Ridge. and then moved to the 121st Precinct station on Staten Island.
It's not clear if they had attorneys.
Two Port Authority police officers were treated for minor injuries. No one else was hurt, officials said.
Mazza's aggravated assault case stemmed from a domestic violence incident, officials said.