UPDATE: Police identify suspect in car chase as Hartford resident

UPDATE: A police chase that ended in Trumbull this morning led to a swirl of rumors, that were dispelled when State Police announced this afternoon that the suspect is a Hartford resident and not an escaped convict.

The driver crashed into a police cruiser, while an officer and police dog were inside.

Trumbull Police Lt. Leonard Scinto said he was receiving calls today, based on rumors that the suspect was one of the escaped convicts from New York's Clinton Correctional. The stolen car had New York plates.

State Police have identified suspect is Rafael Vasquez, 26, of 181 Hampton St. Hartford.

Trumbull Police Lt. Leonard Scinto told The Times that the chase ended on the Merritt Parkway in Trumbull late Tuesday morning, and the suspect, who led police from Norwalk to Trumbull, was taken into custody and taken to State Police Troop G in Bridgeport. A Trumbull cruiser, stopped at the end of the Exit 51 ramp on the Merritt, was struck by the fleeing suspect’s vehicle, when the officer and police dog were inside. However, both dog and officer were OK, Scinto said. There was some front-end damage to the car and a tire snapped off.

Lt. Scinto said he has fielded calls from People magazine and others, asking about it. However, he did not believe the rumors have merit, as he drove by the suspect and saw his face.

Vasquez was charged with Reckless Driving, Engaging Police in Pursuit, Evading: Physical Injury or Property Damage, Operation of a Motor Vehicle without a License, 3rd Degree Larceny, 2nd Degree Criminal Trover, Damage to a Motor Vehicle, Interfering with an Officer and Assault on a Public Safety Officer.

Below is the full State Police release:

State Troopers at Troop G-Bridgeport received several calls on the erratic operation of a black Honda Civic, with New York registration plates, on 1-95 Southbound, Exit 18 in Westport. State Police attempted to stop this vehicle but it failed to pull over. State Police became involved in a pursuit with this vehicle approaching Exit 17, and learned that the vehicle had been reported stolen out of Mamaroneck, New York.

State Police lost sight of the vehicle at Exit 16. Westport Police located the vehicle and became involved in a pursuit in their town on Route 1, heading toward Fairfield. The vehicle caused several accidents in Westport before Fairfield Police became involved when the vehicle crossed into their town. The vehicle got back onto 1-95 Northbound at Exit 19, where State Police again pursued the vehicle. The vehicle left the highway at Exit 26, where Bridgeport Police became involved, then returned back onto 1-95 Northbound at Exit 26, continuing to engage police in pursuit.

The vehicle then exited the highway at Exit 28 in Bridgeport. Bridgeport Police continued to pursue the vehicle through their city and then into Stratford, where Stratford Police became involved. The vehicle traveled through Stratford and Entered Route 15 Southbound at Exit 53. Stratford Police continued their pursuit and were joined by State Police and Trumbull Police.

The vehicle became involved in a two-car accident on Route 15 Southbound and then left the highway at Exit 50, in Trumbull. The vehicle continued to be pursued through the town of Trumbull where it entered Route 15 Northbound at Exit 48. Police tried several times to deploy stop sticks but were unsuccessful. The vehicle continued traveling north on Route 15 at a high rate of speed until it became involved in another two-car accident near Exit 50. This accident caused the vehicle to spin out of control and strike a guard rail, where a Trumbull Police K-9 officer boxed in the vehicle. The vehicle then moved forward while still trying to elude police and struck the Trumbull PD car.