A report of attempted child enticement touched off a police chase that ended with a suspect apprehended in downtown Omaha Thursday May 15th.
Today, over a week and a half later, the two Omaha Police officers who were first to see the suspect see the video taken by OPD helicopter Able 1.
“At this point his vehicle is in 100 percent working order. He has both tires inflated, and his vehicle seems to be working just fine," said Officer Jordan Brandt while looking at the video.
It began near North 40th and Parker streets around 8:45 p.m. when a man called 911 and said a man tried to lure his children, ages 10 and 6, into his van, then ran after them. Police located the van and saw a woman get out of the van, which hit a parked vehicle before taking off. The woman was not located.
This pursuit was far from a normal pursuit.
“The pursuit did initiate in a residential area. And so that does create a high level of risk. But given that we believe, that there was a high likely hood that there was a child that had just been abducted in that car, the reward is higher than the risk," said Sgt. Aaron Hanson, Omaha Police.
All officers agree, Able 1 was a big help during the pursuit.
"We didn’t want to push this driver through blind intersections, and so that’s why the decision was made to shut off the lights and sirens,” and let Able 1 keep tabs on Collins every turn, said Sgt. Hanson.
Approximately 15 minutes into the chase the van crashed into two vehicles at 14th and Dodge where Collins tried to get into Jessica Mericle's vehicle. She said it was a moment she will never forget. "Probably the scariest, the scariest."
Jessica, who had her 11-year-old cousin in the car with her, said, "It all happened so fast, but it was just so scary to see him have this crazed look in his eye after he hit my vehicle running up and my doors were locked, just trying to roll up my window so he couldn't get in and harm myself or my cousin. And when he couldn't get in, he took off in front of my car. He was cornered by officers and just taken down by police and the dog."
Jessica said she will never forget the look in Collins' eyes. "Like there was no soul in his body, like there was no soul, straight devil. He was out for it, he didn't care who he harmed."
She wasn't happy she was hit, but after hearing he was suspected of trying to lure children, she believes she was in the right place at the right time. "I believe in God and I believe I was there for a reason, I was there to help save children. So if I can take that hit, that is all that matters to me."
The van Collins was driving turned out to have been stolen in Bellevue. He faces charges of attempted abduction, attempted robbery, flight to avoid arrest and theft by receiving. He was also being sought on a felony warrant and two misdemeanor warrants.