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New details reveal Omaha theft suspect arrested in police chase was handcuffed

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 8:57 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - It was breaking news two weeks ago, a theft suspect escaped from police in an Omaha emergency room, carjacked a woman, and led police on a wild chase into Council Bluffs.

But that was only part of the story — emerging new details reveal the suspect was handcuffed the entire time.

Another part of the story happened in Omaha’s Field Club area. After his escape from the emergency room, the suspect raced through Midtown, to Dundee, and then to Field Club.

6 News discovered he drove through the middle of the golf course.

“We were lucky it didn’t get any worse than it was,” said Greg Gilg, General Manager of The Field Club of Omaha.

The suspect is 28-year-old Vernon Williams of Omaha.

He went to prison in 2018 after leading police on a half-hour chase.

On Nov. 8, police responded to a north Omaha car dealership on complaints of a guy who was allegedly trying to steal car keys. Citizens followed the man, Vernon Williams, who was reportedly armed with a hammer through the neighborhood and officers arrested him without any issues.

Court records show that Williams complained of feeling faint and short of breath so officers took him to the Nebraska Medicine Emergency Room to get a check-up.

The check-up never happened.

Investigators say Williams ran out of the ER and carjacked a 74-year-old woman nearby. He apparently asked her to drive because he was still handcuffed and she said no, so he drove off without her.

He smashed into a nearby police SUV, quickly learning that 36th Ave. doesn’t go all the way through in Field Club.

“He goes in here... and straight through the fence,” said Gilg. “This is exposed dirt, he bottoms out here and just follows the turf.”

Williams reportedly raced across Field Club Golf Course but eventually had trouble turning onto Woolworth. Later, the golf course GM asked the police about that.

“It‘s not that sharp of a turn, so when the guys came back I asked, ‘for some reason he struggled getting through here,’” said Gilg. “And they said, ‘Yeah, he was handcuffed,” and I said, ‘This makes so much more sense now.’”

Gilg believed the suspect was navigating the course with his knee.

“Knee, it’s got to be a knee, right?”

For 12 miles, from Omaha to Council Bluffs, the handcuffed Williams avoided capture. Traffic camera video footage showed Williams crossing into Iowa on Interstate 80 at a high rate of speed with several cop cars in pursuit.

Williams finally crashed near the Iowa School for the Deaf.

Cuffing him wasn’t necessary.

Williams is currently housed in the Pottawattamie County Jail. Records show that an extradition order is in place and he will eventually be brought back to Nebraska to face charges.

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