A man wanted in connection with several robberies led Dallas police on a chase through the city and onto the runways at Love Field airport Thursday afternoon.
Police arrested Michael Lawrence Brown, 46, next to one of Love Field's busiest runways after an hour-long chase.
Jesse Reyes, deputy chief of the North Central Patrol Division, said an undercover officer spotted Brown in a suspicious vehicle at about 2:30 p.m. and ran the license plate. The plate came back as that of a truck stolen during an aggravated robbery Wednesday. Officers tried to make a felony traffic stop near the 5900 block of Arapaho Road, but Brown refused to pull over.
From North Dallas, Brown drove south to Uptown and in and out of side streets before heading north toward Dallas Love Field. He did the majority of it on only three tires and one rim after hitting one set of stop sticks.
Police pursued Brown all the way up Harry Hines Boulevard to Mockingbird Lane and finally into Love Field.
With no other way to go, he easily smashed through through a security gate off of Aviation Place and found himself on the tarmac not far from nine Southwest passenger jets.
Brown didn't stop there; he drove east over an active runway (31R) before turning and continuing up the taxiway. He then crossed Runway 18 and was boxed in by four cruisers and an unmarked police truck. The officers forced the driver to the left and into the grass north of Runway 18 and in between the taxiway and Runway 13L.
One officer used a pit maneuver to force the truck into a spin, and the chase was over.
DPD Reviewing Pursuit
Dallas police said the entire chase is under review after officers used maneuvers they are not authorized to use, but top brass within the department also said the incident had extenuating circumstances.
Officers had multiple opportunities to bring the chase to an end before Brown reached the airport; first along the access road of U.S. 75 and then on the city streets of Dallas.
Both times, officers skipped the pit maneuver, a maneuver that violates the department's new chase police. But a Dallas police car ended the chase with a pit maneuver, ramming the stolen truck and forcing it to a stop.
"It is not part of our current chase policy at this point, but given the circumstances, the supervisor felt that was the appropriate decision to make at that point," Reyes said.
The officers also failed to box the driver in and allowed him to continue moving forward. Reyes said that because of the nature of the chase, which was on dense city streets, officers had a tough time getting in front of the driver and deploying stop sticks.
According to three Dallas police officers, the chase was prolonged because of a shortage of stop sticks, a shortage that was originally reported more than a year ago. A possible lack of stop sticks will be part of the department's review of the chase.
Reyes complimented the officers in the chase, pointing out that there were no injuries or traffic accidents reported in connection with the pursuit.
Dallas police can only chase someone who has committed a violent crime or is about to. Officers were authorized to pursue Brown because a check of the truck's license plate revealed it had been stolen in a carjacking.
Security Questions at Love Field
Dallas Love Field implemented its emergency plan and halted all air traffic when it was alerted to the chase, Reyes said.
But aviation experts questioned the airport's security after Brown managed to drive through an airport construction zone and then crash through a gate to enter the tarmac.
"In this case, they say, 'Well, the airport's under construction, so there's a construction area,'" aviation expert Denny Kelly said. "It should be more secure because of this construction area because it's a weak point, so you strengthen it."
Kelly also questioned the decision to let Brown penetrate the airport property as far as he did.
"(The) first thing that went through my mind was, 'How did they let him bust through the gate?'" Kelly said. "They should've shot him. It's just that simple."
Jose Luis Torres, city of Dallas Department of Aviation spokesman, said the airport tarmac wasn't shut down when Brown entered the airport "because the chase didn't affect air operations until he went through the gate."
Torres said each tarmac incursion is treated differently.
"Since it became a runway intrusion that was pretty severe, they decided to act immediately and close the runway," he said.
Kelly said Brown could have easily rammed an airplane on the tarmac.
"They don't know what the guy's intentions are," Kelly said. "How do these airports like Love Field, how is their physical protection, their physical plant for the airport in such a state that you can drive a pickup truck with two flat tires through the protection and get on the airport?"
Torres said the gate Brown drove through met airport requirements for security. He also said the city will likely review the incident to prevent a similar one from happening in the future.
City officials also said they are going to take a hard look at the security of the construction around the airport.
Runway 13L was closed, and all air traffic was moved to runway 13R while Brown was taken into custody and the truck was removed from airport property.
Officials with Southwest Airlines said the nine planes on the ground at the time of the chase were delayed 20 minutes.
One flight was also forced to circle the airport once before landing on a different runway, the airline said.
Carjacking Victim Shocked
The pickup truck Brown was driving was stolen Wednesday afternoon from a woman outside the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Fort Worth.
Maria Santiago said she had just visited a friend when a knife-wielding man approached her.
"He was close to me. He kept on telling me, 'Give me the keys! Give me the keys!'" she said in Spanish.
Santiago said the man grabbed her keys, jumped in her pickup and took off. She didn't see her truck again until a friend called Thursday afternoon and told her to turn on the television.
"When I was watching the footage of the chase going on, I was thankful that I wasn't in it, because only a crazy person could do that and go through so much,” she said.
Santiago said she doesn't know when or if she'll get her truck back but is just grateful she escaped the ordeal with her life.
"Thank God I'm fine,” she said. “The material things, they can be taken care of. But a person's life cannot."
Brown had a knife in his possession when he was arrested at Love Field, police said. He was transported to an area hospital after telling officers he wasn't feeling well. Brown was released from the hospital and was in police custody Thursday night.
Police said Brown is suspected in as many as 10 robberies, including a purse snatching earlier Thursday and Santiago's carjacking. He faces local, state and federal charges.
According to court records, Brown has been in and out of jail on theft and robbery charges over the past six years. He also had a warrant out for his arrest at the time of the chase.
NBCDFW's Ellen Goldberg, Omar Villafranca, Scott Gordon and Grant Stinchfield contributed to this report.