Local News

Man dead in Fayetteville police chase; suspect on the run

Posted January 6, 2010 7:42 a.m. EST
Updated January 7, 2010 5:57 a.m. EST

— A man died during a Fayetteville police chase Wednesday morning after a fleeing suspect crashed a stolen pickup truck into a PT Cruiser, killing the car's driver.

Police identified the victim as John Velandra, 43. The pickup driver, later identified as Percyful Junior Mcintyre, fled the area on foot.

Mcintyre, 24, hadn't been apprehended by Wednesday evening and warrants were issued for his arrest. He is expected to be charged with second-degree murder, felony speeding to elude arrest, larceny of a motor vehicle, possession of a stolen vehicle and felony hit and run, police said.

"It was incredibly shocking news," said the Rev. Wayne Tate, a pastor at Manna Church in Fayetteville, which Velandra and his wife attended. "We're going to miss John tremendously."

A woman called police at about 5:15 a.m. to report that a suspicious man was looking in vehicles in the Ingleside Drive neighborhood, police said. She called police again a short time later and said that her husband was following the man who had stolen a silver Ford F-150 truck.

Police tried to pull over the suspect, but he refused to stop and a chase ensued. Officers said they started backing off the pickup in the Bragg Street area when it nearly crashed into several vehicles.

As the pursuit moved towards Pamalee Drive and Cain Road, two officers with marked patrol cars and blue lights flashing blocked the intersection "to reduce the likelihood of other vehicles being struck by the suspect vehicle," police said.

"Unfortunately, a 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser, driven by John Velandra, failed to yield to the officers at the scene and entered the intersection when the light in his direction of travel turned green," police said in a press release.

Velandra, a former Fort Bragg soldier, was on his way to teach a fitness class Wednesday morning, Tate said. He was the owner of Designs in Fitness personal training services in Fayetteville.

Shortly after entering the intersection, the pickup truck struck Velandra's vehicle and the suspect ran away. Emergency crews took Velandra to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

"We're not supposed to understand everything that happens. We certainly will never understand why John was taken from us at this time," Tate said.

He described Velandra as active in the church and devoted to his wife and his fitness business.

"He loved to help people. I would always find John off in a corner somewhere talking with someone, trying to help them in any way that he could," said Tate, who said Velandra also was his personal trainer.

The officers involved in the pursuit were placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of the administrative investigation, which is standard policy and procedure.

Anyone having information regarding the whereabouts of McIntyre, who might have visible head injuries from the crash, should contact the Fayetteville Police Department at 910- 433-1885 or Crime Stoppers at 910-483-8477.