Shots rang out early Sunday morning in Lawrence as an alleged drunk driver fled a sobriety checkpoint and struck a state trooper, and the driver was eventually apprehended in North Andover.
Shortly after 2 a.m., police say Ottoniel Herrera, 32, of 205 Prospect St., Lawrence, was operating a 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee when state police pulled him over at a sobriety checkpoint on Route 28 in Lawrence. Herrera fled, and in the process he reportedly drove his vehicle at the troopers, striking one of them in his hand, according to state police reports. Police say Hererra drove down a dead-end street, turned around and came back toward the checkpoint at more than 100 miles per hour.
The troopers then opened fire on the car but did not hit the driver.
Herrera then drove away and led the state police on a chase from Route 28 to I-495 and into North Andover via the Massachusetts Avenue exit. Herrera took off down Sutton Street in North Andover but then crashed into a state police cruiser.
The trooper in that crash was reportedly not injured.
"State Police are processing both crime scenes and the suspect vehicle and interviewing witnesses," Massachusetts State Police spokesman David Procopio said. "Meanwhile, the trooper who suffered the hand injury has been treated at an area hospital and released."
North Andover Police Officer William Brush got the alert and rushed to the scene to help the state police, North Andover Police Chief Gallagher said. North Andover Fire Department was then notified, and EMTs transported Herrera to Lawrence General Hospital.
Herrera was released from the hospital later Sunday morning and will be arraigned Monday in Lawrence District Court on the following charges:
- Assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (to wit, a motor vehicle)
- Assault and battery on a police officer
- Operating under the influence of liquor
- Leaving the scene of a personal injury crash
- Negligent operation of a motor vehicle
- Failure to stop for police
- Failure to stop at a red light
- Failure to use care when stopping
- Marked lanes violation
"Defendant Herrera's actions -- from driving drunk to trying to run down a trooper to fleeing at a high rate of speed -- reveal an utter disregard for the law and for the safety of innocent citizens in cars and homes around him," Procopio said. "The defendant's reckless behavior could have caused serious injury, or worse, to innocent bystanders or police officers."
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