CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. -- A Statesville man is facing multiple charges -- including attempted first degree murder and child abuse -- after leading police and deputies on a two-county chase that stretched nearly 20 miles and ended by crashing into sheriff's deputies' cars.
Pho Duc Nguyen, 25, is also charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest in Catawba County, and fleeing to elude arrest in Catawba and Iredell counties and in Claremont. He is in the Catawba County Jail under more than a half-million dollars bond.
His passenger, Say Su Dung, 28, is charged with misdemeanor child abuse because she was holding the couple's infant daughter, Sophia, as Nguyen sped from police and crashed into patrol cars, according to a warrant.
"It was like a scene from COPS, but it was real and it was live," said Ben Kirk, who witnessed the chase and crash as it happened in front of his house in the Mountain View community, just south of Hickory city limits.
Kirk said the suspects' car sped down his street until the driver realized it was a dead end. Then the driver drove up into a neighbor's yard -- coincidentally, also belonging a sheriff's deputy -- then spun around and came back.
A second neighbor, who asked not to be named, said the driver hit two patrol cars and kept going, before hitting two more patrol cars head-on and stopping.
"He hit the first police officer square right in the front grille," recounted Kirk, "and then he pushed off and tried to go around him and hit another one."
Sheriff Coy Reid told NBC Charlotte that four deputies' cars were damaged in the wreck. But the crash didn't stop the driver, said Kirk.
"When he came out of the car, it took six of them (deputies) to wrestle him down," Kirk said. "He was fighting even when he was on the ground and cuffed -- it was crazy!"
Lt. Summers of the Iredell Sheriff's Office said earlier in the evening, an Iredell deputy had attempted to pull Nguyen's car over for a minor traffic violation. Summers said the driver of Nguyen's car pulled over, then sped off.
An "attempt to locate" call was put out on the car, a 1996 Nissan Maxima. A Claremont police officer spotted the car at the Claremont exit of I-40 and began the pursuit, according to a warrant. As the cars entered Catawba County, Catawba sheriff's deputies joined the chase and the Claremont officer dropped out.
The chase continued until the crash in front of Kirk's house on Sweetbriar Lane.
Kirk said while deputies had to fight Nguyen and even deploy their tasers, they took a different approach with Dung once they realized she was holding a baby. Kirk said neighborhood moms took care of the baby until an ambulance arrived, and the baby cried the entire time. The baby's condition was unavailable Sunday night.
Kirk wonders what Nguyen was thinking, about the chase and crash.
"Who would do something like that with a child in the car?" he asked.