Stolen police cars were finale of suspects' crime spree (PHOTOS)
NORTHERN LIBERTIES - March 6, 2013 (WPVI) -- Over the last 36 hours, investigators have determined that Blake Bills and Shayna Sykes had spent the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday leading up to the chase stealing multiple cars, buying drugs and running from police
Chopper 6 HD caught Tuesday's out-of-control chase on camera. Now we are learning that this wild ride in two stolen police cruisers through two states was allegedly 24-year-old Blake Bills and 23-year-old Shayna Sykes' grand finale after what police say was a three-day-long crime spree.
"A theft of an auto out of Philadelphia, a chase involving a Camden police officer injured in a chase, an attempted carjacking," said Jason Loughlin of the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.
And the list goes on. Police say the couple committed their first known offense on Sunday when they were spotted by a Camden police officer trying to buy drugs.
The pair hopped into a car and sped away. The officer chased behind them but flipped his vehicle while trying to make a sharp turn. The officer landed in the hospital and the duo broke free.
Then on Monday, across the river in Philadelphia, police accused Bills and Sykes of stealing a car that was left running on the street by a man making a food delivery.
Fast-forward to Tuesday morning at 9:30 back in Camden, and police say the couple attempted to steal a second car. But it was locked. Within 20 minutes they hopped into a Camden city police cruiser and the now-infamous chase through two cities began.
"They have a very serious heroin problem," said Loughlin. "They were in the city trying to pick up heroin, and that is what led to a lot of this happening."
Charges announced Wednesday in Camden County
On Wednesday, Camden County authorities announced charges against the pair.
Bills, of Macungie, Pennsylvania was charged with Attempted Murder, Carjacking, Eluding, 2nd degree Aggravated Assault, and 4th degree Assault by Auto.
Sykes, also of Macungie, was charged with 3rd degree Conspiracy to Commit Theft of a Car and 4th degree Joyriding.
Philadelphia Police have also filed numerous charges against the two: Bills is charged with Receiving Stolen Property, Unauthorized Use of Auto, Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Fleeing and Eluding Police and Driving Under the Influence. Sykes is charged with two counts of Aggravated Assault, Simple Assault, Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Fleeing and Eluding Police, Driving Under the Influence and two counts of Theft, Receiving Stolen Property and Unauthorized Use of Auto.
Both Bills and Sykes are currently being held in Pennsylvania.
Camden police say the pursuit began Tuesday morning as 49-year-old Camden Police Officer Sekou Reid-Bey pulled a car over for a traffic stop on Federal Street.
Police say while Reid-Bey talked to the motorist in the vehicle he had pulled over, Bills and Sykes, who had nothing to do with the stop, came upon the cruiser, jumped in, and started driving.
The two suspects are accused of intentionally driving into Reid-Bey with the stolen cruiser as he walked toward it.
Reid-Bey, a 16-year veteran of the force, suffered a fractured femur in the incident.
Camden Police say the stolen cruiser led police through Camden eastbound on Admiral Wilson Boulevard.
The vehicle briefly turned onto Route 130 and Route 38 in Pennsauken, and then sped in the opposite direction on Admiral Wilson Boulevard, reaching speeds above 100 mph. The car then led police into the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and into Philadelphia.
The stolen police car crashed into several cars in the vicinity of 7th Street and Lehigh Avenue in North Philadelphia before Philadelphia police managed to stop the vehicle at 7th and Norris streets.
That's where Bills, who was driving, was taken into custody. Sykes, however, made a break for it and somehow managed to get into Philadelphia patrol car 2625 and fled the scene.
The chase continued to the 1100 block of Hope Street in the city's Northern Liberties section, where the woman was taken into custody.
Police say it is not clear why the car stopped, but Philadelphia Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross did say the car appeared to be leaking a lot of fluid.
Ross called the two state chase a very volatile and bizarre situation.
"A lot of people could have gotten hurt. It just was bizarre. In my time on this job, which is almost a quarter of a century, I've never heard of an instance where two police cars were stolen in the same incident," Ross said.
During a press conference, Ross was questioned about the protocol for officers to leave their keys in the ignition during a traffic stop.
"You can Monday morning quarterback all day long, but at that particular time, I think it's safe to say that officer's first decision they had to make was the safety of their fellow officers," Ross said, adding, "I would imagine if you were to poll police departments across the country, you probably would not find very many where they turn their car off during a car stop."
Ross did say when at all possible, police are supposed remove the keys from the ignition.
"We could harp on that part, but the biggest piece for us is that no one was hurt," Ross said.
At the time, the Deputy Commissioner said a broadcast indicated an officer was down.
Ross commended the responding officers on the restraint used during the entire incident.
During the incident, a pedestrian jumped out of the way of the stolen police car. Ross said she suffered minor injuries.
Ross said the suspects may have been using some type of drug.
"You best bet a toxicology will be done and we do have every reason to believe that drugs were involved," Ross said.
A joint investigation with Camden Police, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office and the Philadelphia Police Department is ongoing.
The two seem to be no stranger to law enforcement.
This past Sunday, Camden police say the two were involved in a car chase that resulted in a pursuing police car to crash. Camden's police chief believes they were trying to score drugs.
Police also say that earlier Tuesday, prior to the wild chase, the two allegedly tried to carjack someone else.
"They're our junky version of Bonnie and Clyde," Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson said.
Neighbors say suspects have troubled past
Neighbors say Shayna Sykes and Blake Bills have been living off and on in Macungie for the past seven months. They say once the couple moved in with Sykes' grandmother trouble began.
"The two of them together were bad news," neighbor Pat Ferguson said.
They were a young couple, new parents to a baby.
But soon after moving into the townhome, two houses were burglarized on the block including Ferguson's home.
"In my house all that was missing was jewelry. The next day all the jewelry was back in my house. But the grandmother had the key to my house," Ferguson said.
Ferguson suspects that Blake Bills returned the stolen goods.
Bills was charged for at least one of the crimes and pleaded guilty.
"We all got alarm systems. ADT did a lot of business on this road," neighbor Pat Marsteller said.
Police believe today's crime spree allegedly committed by the duo was fueled by drugs and neighbors had their suspicions all along.
"It's certain activities that you can tell when someone's using drugs. Leaving in the middle of the night, pushing the car out without starting it, stuff like that," neighbor James Jacobs said.
"She had an alcohol problem. If I'm not mistaken, she had 3 DUIs before she was even 21," Ferguson said.
Court records confirm her alcohol problems.
It also appears that Bills has an anger problem. His parents live in Pilesgrove, New Jersey and neighbors there say he was a menace.
"My ex-neighbor had a problem with him at one point and there was a problem and he smashed the window in of his car," Pilesgrove resident Craig Hopkins said.
At this point, Action News has not heard from Shayna Sykes' grandmother. We believe she may be in Philadelphia dealing with her granddaughter's legal trouble.
philadelphia, camden, new jersey, police, police chase, theft, local/state
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