PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A man is under arrest after police say he went on a wild and destructive rampage in a U-Haul truck, striking outdoor diners in Fishtown and nearly running over police officers during a chase. It all started when the driver pulled up to The International Bar on the corner of North Front Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue, just after 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
Police say 43-year-old Benigno Melendez reached over the wooden partition at the restaurant and stole the purse of a woman seated there. Then in an attempt to get away, the driver smashed into the setup, hit a 62-year-old man who was dining out and hit a 26-year-old man who was on a motorcycle.READ MORE: Philadelphia Mother Pleading To Find Driver Who Struck Son In Hit-And-Run, 'Guardian Angel' Who Found Him
After the U-Haul tore out of there, leaving a trail of destruction behind, the driver then led police on a chase.
Crazy story in Fishtown. Police say the driver of a U-Haul crashed into this outdoor dining area, hit two people, led police on a wild chase, and nearly ran over officers. Coming up, the crime police say the driver was committing just before setting off this wild chain of events. pic.twitter.com/x6SxCJAwli
— Jan Carabeo (@JanCarabeoCBS3) April 30, 2021
A police helicopter spotted the U-Haul moving recklessly through city streets and police on the ground caught up to the driver at 2nd and Birch Streets.READ MORE: Philadelphia's Evil Genius Beer Company Giving Out Free Beers To Those Getting Vaccinated In May
Still trying to get away, police say the driver hit several parked cars and a police cruiser.
With the U-Haul now stopped, investigators say police got out of their vehicle and tried to pull the driver out of the U-Haul but instead they say the driver resisted and hit the gas, nearly running over officers.
Investigators say police then used their tasers and were able to make an arrest.
“So what started as a theft of a purse, led to a hit-and-run auto accident, reckless endangerment and aggravated assault,” Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said. “Now, inside of that U-Haul police did find the wallet and possible purse and cell phone of the 36-year-old female. She was able to describe it to us and it appears that her purse cell phone and other belongings are inside the U-Haul. But we’re holding that as part of the crime scene and our East Detectives are going to investigate this.”
Melendez was taken to the hospital after being hit with the taser.
The two people who were hit by the U-Haul are expected to recover.
Police are now searching the area for surveillance video to help in the investigation.MORE NEWS: Friday Night In New Jersey Looks Like Something Out Of 2019 As Restrictions Eased
CBS3 spoke with the co-owner of The International Bar who says the bar will open as usual Friday at 3 p.m.