police chase

Police Chase Through 2 States Ends in Rollover Crash, Driver Allegedly Fired at Officers

The Montgomery County police chased a suspect who shot at a police officer for 20 miles Monday morning

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A police chase that went through Virginia and Maryland on Fourth of July morning ended with a crash along Route 7, after an armed driver fired at officers and residents of a Germantown neighborhood.

Frederick Njihia, 26, was arrested, and authorities said he will face criminal charges in both states.

Independence Day started with a threatening bang at around 9:20 a.m., when county authorities received multiple calls about a man with a gun and shots fired on Hawks Ridge Terrace in Germantown.

Police said a man had been pointing a rifle at people, among them, a Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission worker, whose truck was hit several times by gunfire.

“That’s when I heard gunshots... When I came out, I looked and I seen the guy with the gun," neighbor Tony Hussakowski said. “I’m guessing he was shooting at the WSSC truck."

Hussakowski barely had time to process what was unfolding in front of him, before the gunman turned to him.

“That’s when he shot at me. That’s when I ran behind that van,” he said. 

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By then, police had been called to the scene, and the suspect drove off in a blue Honda Civic. 

Officers spotted the vehicle on Germantown Road, where authorities say the driver shot at a marked cruiser, flattening its front tire.

Police then began to chase the suspect and notified Virginia State Police that they were heading towards Virginia.

A map depicting the Monday morning police chase. Graphic created by NBC Washington.

Video obtained by News4 shows that police used a PIT maneuver (where a police cruiser will bump the back of the suspect vehicle to cause it to spin out and stop), causing the driver to crash into a wall and flip upside down.

The driver was taken to the hospital for minor injuries. No officers were hurt during the pursuit.

In total, the chase went on for 20 miles, starting in Maryland on Interstate 270, to Interstate 495 and ending along Route 7 in Tysons Corner, Virginia.

Authorities said Njihia had "high powered weapons" in his possession, including a rifle.

In police dispatch calls obtained by News4, police can be heard talking about how to end the chase.

"Do we have anybody here who’s PIT certified? Our speed keeps dropping, we might have an opportunity," the police dispatch said. Then, they referenced the crash: "PIT and rollover at this location just past the toll road, start rescue, put him on standby."

News4's Derrick Ward reports on a pursuit that started with a man wanted for an earlier shooting incident.

A witness to the chase, Spencer Deese, was house sitting for a friend at a Tyson high-rise when he heard the sirens and caught the crash on camera.

"It was wild, I was like I've never seen that in real life," Deese said. "I've only seen that on TV."

"Njihia will be charged, via a Montgomery County criminal arrest warrant, with four counts of attempted murder and first-degree assault with a firearm. He is currently being held in Virginia for traffic related charges and will be extradited to Montgomery County," police said in a release.

Residents of the Germantown neighborhood where the shooting started said they’d been hearing signs of trouble since as early as Friday, when shots rang out days before the pursuit.

Hussakowski said he checked around his house and his vehicles. When he didn’t see anything, he thought maybe it was just fireworks. 

“And then my wife noticed the window on Saturday,” he said. 

A window to a home had been broken, and the driver’s side window of an SUV parked on the street was also shattered. Another family had a bullet enter their home. Fortunately, no one was injured inside.

Montgomery County police said they did receive calls for those incidents, but have not said how they could be related to Monday's shooting.

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