GENESEO, N.Y. (WIVB)–Authorities in three Upstate counties are thankful a wild police chase and shootout didn’t end a lot worse than it did.
Officers from 4 local agencies exchanged gunfire with the driver of a tractor trailer during a one-and-a-half-hour chase involving four police agencies and several first responders. The ordeal ended with the big rig ditched in a field and the driver killed.
Investigators said a Village of Leroy police officer pulled the tractor trailer over to write a speeding ticket, but the driver, identified as Joshua Blessed of Harrisonburg, VA, defied the officer and pulled away.
Blessed, known previously as Sergei Jourev, led officers on a wild chase through Genesee, Livingston, and a small corner of Wyoming counties, with police making several attempts to slow the rig down with “stop sticks,” similar to devices known as “spike strips.”
By the time the chase was over, at least 4 police vehicles were damaged by gunfire, or getting rammed by the big rig.
LeRoy Police Chief Chris Hayward said the Leroy officer that pulled Blessed over barely escaped injury when the truck suddelny drove off, “Right from the get-go, would not follow the officer’s direction and when he took off he also was still on the truck and had to jump off the truck as he pulled away.”
Livingston County Sheriff Thomas Dougherty was thankful no one else was hurt, “I would call it a miracle, I honestly would, God’s blessing. I have no clue how nobody was hurt. So many shots at law enforcement, the size of this vehicle, the weight of this vehicle, his driving, the civilians around.”
After an exchange of gunfire between the driver and police, the truck ran off the road and came to rest in a field, where officers took Blessed into custody and recovered a handgun. Blessed’s cause of death has not yet been determined.
When asked how many shots were fired in the exchanges between Joshua Blessed and police, Sheriff Dougherty would only say, “a lot”.
State Police and the FBI are assisting in the investigation. Police revealed a review of Blessed’s social media turned up some anti-law enforcement writings.