Two Massachusetts men are facing charges after they allegedly fled from Somerset police officers Sunday during a traffic stop and then later from the scene of a crash.
Kevin Ploude, 33, of Fall River, was arrested and charged with assault by firearm, failure to stop for police, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, receiving stolen property, and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license.
Scott Hazel, 36, also of Fall River, was taken into custody and charged with receiving stolen property.
Somerset police say they responded around 1:20 p.m. Sunday to the Somerset Creamery for a report of two men allegedly acting suspiciously in a Chevrolet Blazer parked in the ice cream shop parking lot.
Responding officers spoke with the two men, later identified as Ploude and Hazel, and questioned them about why the vehicle's rear license plate was in the backseat, instead of attached to the Blazer.
After the conversation had ended, Ploude was driving out of the parking lot when the officers ran a check on the vehicle's registration and discovered Ploude was driving with a suspended license.
Police say they attempted to pull Ploude over a short distance down the road. Somerset police say the vehicle was stopped on the on-ramp to the Veteran's Memorial Bridge when an officer approached it and noticed Ploude was holding a handgun. Ploude then allegedly sped off at a high rate of speed, heading south on Davol Street into Fall River, police say.
A police pursuit ensued, but officers ended the chase after Ploude allegedly reached speeds of over 80 miles per hour and drove through a red light at the intersection of President Avenue and Davol Street.
Shortly after, an officer noticed a group of people yelling for help near the Cove Restaurant and Marina. Police say Ploude had lost control of the vehicle, causing it to roll over and come to a stop in the middle of the road.
Both Ploude and Hazel fled the crash scene on foot, according to Somerset police.
Police later obtained video showing that after Ploude initially began to run from the vehicle, he turned back to retrieve the handgun on the ground before he fled again.
A short time later, Hazel was found walking on Route 79 and taken into custody without incident by the Somerset and Fall River police departments. Hazel was brought to a local hospital to be treated for injuries he sustained during the rollover crash. The injuries are not believed to be life-threatening, police say.
A witness reported to police that Ploude had jumped off the boardwalk, into the Taunton River. In their search, officers discovered fresh footprints leading down to a tunnel underneath the boardwalk that had a sewer pipe opening. Somerset Police K9 Officer Jared Linhares and his K9 partner Viepo checked the area but were unable to find Ploude or the handgun he grabbed from the Blazer. The Fall River Harbor Master and a Fall River Fire Department boat assisted in the search.
Around 6 p.m. Sunday, a person near the boardwalk told a Fall River police officer that a person matching Ploude's description was walking nearby and was very wet.
Officers were able to locate Ploude, before he allegedly fled again. He was taken into custody following a foot pursuit and brought to a local hospital to be treated for non-life threatening injuries.
He was released from the hospital and taken to the Somerset Police station where he declined to take part in the booking process, police say.
The Chevrolet Blazer that Ploude was driving earlier that day was towed from the crash scene, and Somerset police say several items were found inside that are believed to have been stolen from local businesses.
Ploude was expected to be arraigned Monday at Fall River District Court. Hazel is expected to be arraigned at a later date. It's unclear if either has an attorney that could speak to their charges.