ATLANTA – ATLANTA (AP) — An SUV driving at high speed plowed into a barbershop Thursday and hurt five people — three critically — shortly after it fled from police officers who tried to pull it over when they discovered it was stolen.
All five victims were men inside the barbershop at the time of the crash and were being treated at Grady Memorial Hospital, spokeswoman Denise Simpson said.
The driver, 42-year-old Kirvy Mims, was not injured and was captured trying to run away, police spokesman Officer James Polite said. Mims is expected to face multiple charges. He had an active warrant issued for auto theft and was recently released from prison, Polite said.
According to Polite, three people, including the barbershop manager will also face weapons and drug charges after authorities responding to the crash discovered marijuana, crack cocaine and two unlicensed handguns at the shop.
Members of an auto theft task force had spotted the vehicle in midtown Atlanta and attempted to make a traffic stop, but the SUV kept going, Polite said.
Polite said a supervisor called off the pursuit by Atlanta officers and the Georgia State Patrol, but the SUV continued at high speed and wound up on Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway on the city's west side.
Witnesses said the black SUV ran a stop light, bounced over the curb and into a parking lot. They said it hit a car parked in front of the shop before crashing into the building's front entrance.
"It sounded like a bomb exploded," said Willie Turner, who said the speeding SUV narrowly missed his car on the road just before the crash. "I was worried people were actually going to die in that accident."
Turner said the driver jumped out and tried to flee before being arrested. Polite said the driver was trying to climb a fence when he was arrested by officers who were not part of the original pursuit team.
Hours later, dozens of firefighters and police officers remained at the scene. Firefighters were working to stabilize the building so they could remove the SUV. Firefighters at a station across the street heard the crash and were among the first at the scene.
Two phone numbers listed on the barbershop's sign were disconnected.
Among those at the scene was Tremayne Smith, 28, a barber who was running late to work and arrived to find the SUV inside.
Smith, who has worked at the barbershop for seven years, was shaken by the thought that his young son frequently comes to work with him.
"He's a real busybody," Smith said. "He wanders all over the shop."