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Burglary suspect fleeing police blamed for tie-up, wrecks on Grand Island bridge

A man who damaged at least four cars and tied up traffic on the southbound South Grand Island Bridge in an apparent attempt to flee from police is a suspect in a string of area burglaries, Town of Tonawanda Police Capt. Joseph F. Carosi said Monday.

The commotion began at about 1:10 p.m., when a town patrol officer spotted a pickup truck that had been seen being used in some local burglaries. The truck, a black GMC with Ontario license plates, had been reported stolen in Buffalo.

The pickup, which was being driven by John Al Laco, 51, no permanent address but formerly of Buffalo’s Lovejoy neighborhood. It was seen pulling out of a motel on Sheridan Parkside Drive and was proceeding west on Sheridan when the patrol officer tried to pull it over.

But the driver accelerated, blowing through a red light, and a chase began, Carosi said.

The pickup got on the I-190 North entrance from Grand Island Boulevard, proceeding onto the Niagara Thruway and exited at River Road in the Town of Tonawanda, police said.

“It then made a couple of left turns and re-entered the 190,” police said in a statement. But this time, the driver went north on the southbound lanes, heading straight into southbound traffic coming off the South Grand Island Bridge.

The vehicle ended up wedged between a tractor-trailer and a minivan on the bridge as traffic came to a stop.

The officers ran up the bridge and took the driver into custody.

Laco was charged with 14 vehicle and traffic violations plus third-degree criminal possession of stolen property and unlawfully fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle.

Police said they would release the name of the suspect Tuesday and that charges were still being sorted out.

No injuries were reported.