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MOTORIST ARRAIGNED IN HIGH-SPEED CHASE HALF-NAKED MAN LEADS POLICE THROUGH CITY, TOWN OF TONAWANDA

A 30-year-old, half-naked man who led police on a high-speed chase late Thursday through the City and Town of Tonawanda was arraigned Friday in City Court on 16 traffic charges, authorities said.

Thomas L. Murphy of 90 Bonnett Ave., Town of Tonawanda, also faces five charges in the town, they said.

The 15-minute chase began about 11:45 p.m. Thursday, city police said. Lt. George Harvey said he was suspicious of a pickup truck that was parked along a deserted stretch of Two Mile Creek Road and pulled up behind it in his patrol car. He said as he stepped from his car and ordered Murphy out of the truck, it sped away.

Harvey said he got back in his car and chased the pickup through several city streets at speeds over 70 mph. He said he alerted town police for assistance when he reached Military Road.

Harvey said he was joined by other city police officers, who eventually blocked the truck at Ensminger Road and Twain Court in the town.

Murphy slammed on his brakes, causing Harvey's patrol car to strike the left fender of the pickup, police said.

Harvey and Officer Fred Foels said they walked toward the truck and ordered Murphy out. However, Murphy put the truck in reverse and backed it toward Foels, nearly pinning him between the truck and his patrol car.

Murphy then shifted forward, at which point Foels said he drew his service revolver and fired two shots at the truck's rear tires. One of the shots flattened the left tire.

The truck continued onto the sidewalk and then south to East Park Drive. It crashed through several wooden barricades on a road leading to the parking lot of the Linde Division of Union Carbide. The truck stopped after ramming into a locked gate outside the plant.

Murphy was ordered from the truck at gunpoint, police said. Nude from the waist down, he stepped out of the truck and was arrested, they said.

Besides the traffic violations, Murphy also faces a reckless endangerment charge, police said. He was released on $500 bail and is scheduled to reappear Jan. 3 in City Court. He also was issued a ticket to appear in Tonawanda Town Court, they added.

The pickup was impounded by police, who are trying to determine a motive for the incident.

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