Bullets fired at fleeing suspect hit homes

NORCROSS — A shotgun blast fired at a suspect fleeing police for the fifth time in a week accidentally hit two Norcross homes last week, police said.

Three Gwinnett County police officers have been placed on administrative leave following the Sept. 1 incident on Midridge Drive in unincorporated Norcross. Department officials said late last week that officers attempting to arrest 25-year-old Chezare Haynes — who had recklessly fled from police four separate times in the preceding days — fired shots at his vehicle as he drove away that evening.

Since then, several holes in a pair of nearby houses have surfaced.

“It seems the two houses were struck by a single shot from a shotgun,” Gwinnett County police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith said.

No one was injured in the shooting, reportedly triggered when Haynes fled the Midridge Drive home, drove over stop sticks and “narrowly missed” one of the GCPD officers attempting to serve warrants for his arrest. Haynes was not hit and ultimately escaped — for the fifth time in about a week.

— On Aug. 24, Haynes was pulled over near Arc Way at about 7 p.m. Asked to step out of the (allegedly stolen) vehicle, he put the car in drive and sped off, pulled a U-turn in a nearby cul-de-sac and began back toward the officer who initiated the traffic stop.

“At that time I believed his intentions may have been to try and run me over since he had the option to turn left instead of making a U-turn,” the officer wrote in a report. “I drew my issued handgun and jumped behind my marked patrol car. At that point Chezare Haynes straightened the vehicle out and ducked down as he sped past me.”

Haynes also sped past an ice cream cart with “several kids around” before driving on the wrong side of Arc Way and hitting a motorcycle.

— On Aug. 25, a vehicle being driven by Haynes’ girlfriend was pulled over at the Retreat at Arc Way apartments. Haynes, a passenger in the vehicle, which had been reported stolen, reportedly fled on foot and got away.

— On Aug. 26, officers scoping out the Midridge Drive home spotted the Nissan Maxima both Haynes and girlfriend Gitzel Zarate were known to drive. Several squad cars attempted to block the road but “the suspect vehicle drove through multiple front yards to get around,” a report said.

“The Nissan turned left onto Dickens Road at a high rate of speed,” the report said. “(The pursuing officer) observed the vehicle turn right on Burns Road and lost sight of it as it turned left onto Hillcrest Drive.”

— On Aug. 31, the day before the officer-involved shooting, the same Nissan was spotted near the Ellington Woods apartments on Beaver Ruin Road. Authorities again initiated a traffic stop, but to no avail.

Haynes allegedly drove through a red light at Beaver Ruin Road and Steve Reynolds Boulevard, “almost striking a red passenger car.” The suspect hit estimated speeds of 80 mph — in a 45 mph zone — and ran at least two more red lights before officers curtailed their pursuit.

Haynes remained on the lam as of Wednesday afternoon.

The shots fired during the Sept. 1 incident are being probed by GCPD’s deadly force investigation team. The department’s use of force policy says, in part, that an officer may use deadly force “to prevent the escape of a fleeing felon whom the officer has probable cause to believe will pose a significant threat to human life is escape should occur and all other available means of defense have failed or would be inadequate or dangerous.”