New Port Richey Police said they attempted to stop a white 2015 Range Rover last night around 8 PM near Louisiana Avenue and Madison Street because it had windows that were tinted darker than regulation. Police say when New Port Richey Officer Timothy Berge activated his lights to pull the vehicle over, the driver, 27 year old Lionel Bates, hit the gas and headed east on Louisiana Avenue toward Gulf Middle School at high speed. Another New Port Richey officer, Officer Joseph Valente, was heading in the opposite direction, west on Louisiana. Police say Bates attempted to swerve his SUV directly at Valente, forcing him to swerve off the road to avoid a collision.
Police say Bates approached Carob Drive, which is the termination of Louisiana Avenue into a T intersection. The Range Rover lost control and struck a bollard in a residential yard at 6730 Carob Drive and then struck a citizen’s small grey Toyota crossover SUV in the driveway as the residents were attempting to enter it. Witnesses said that the vehicle was traveling “more than a hundred” mile an hour. A female resident was pinned to the garage door by the parked vehicle that was hit and received non-life threatening injuries. Police say Bates then fled the scene on foot but was apprehended a short distance away.
Police say they found cocaine, marijuana, ammunition, $1,150 in cash which has been seized, and a handgun. Bates is a previously convicted felon, making his alleged possession of a firearm a felony. His alleged possession of ammunition is also a felony. Bates now faces multiple charges including Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer, Armed Trafficking in Cocaine, Felon in Possession of a Firearm, and Possession of a Controlled Substance. Additional traffic charges are pending from Florida Highway Patrol.
Florida Highway Patrol later determined the Range Rover to have been listed stolen out of North Carolina since February of 2015. The initial responding officer, Officer Berge, joined the New Port Richey Police Department in November 2015.