By Patty Booth O’Neill
There was a high speed chase through the streets of Long Branch on Friday afternoon as police were in pursuit of a black convertible Sebring driven by 35-year-old Brian Cofer of Asbury Park.
“He was driving on a suspended license and there were warrants out for him,” said Long Branch Public Safety Director Jason Roebuck. He said that when Detectives Charles Simonelli and Todd Coleman tried to stop Cofer for an investigation, he sped off leading police through numerous Long Branch streets.
“I happened to be taking photos on Broadway when we heard all the police sirens. My mom (Patty Booth O’Neill) yelled at me to point the camera at the street and take a stream of photos as the cars sped by,” said Rachel Ross of West Allenhurst. “A black car flew by being chased by a fleet of police cars. Then we jumped in my car and followed them.”
The car headed north past Chelsea and turned onto Bath Avenue not slowing down. “He threw something out his window,” said Roebuck. “Detectives suspected CDS (controlled dangerous substance) but nothing was found.”
Cofer struck several police cars and rammed Juan Vasquez’s patrol car several times during the pursuit, Roebuck said.
On North Bath Cofer attempted to run two civilian cars off the road, passing them on the right. He struck both cars, one a sedan driven by a woman from New York, the other an SUV driven by Edward F. Thomas of Long Branch.
“I saw the car coming up and I slammed on my breaks,” said Ed Thomas. “He hit my bumper and tore it half off, but he really banged up his own car by doing that.”
“It was the craziest thing,” said one bystander on Bath Avenue. “The guy drove by here three time, and didn’t seem at all concerned. Driving as fast as he was he was lighting a cigarette and talking on the phone.”
The Sebring headed toward Broadway when police finally stopped the car on the lawn of a home on the corner of Morrell St. and Bath Ave. Cofer’s car was surrounded and the suspect was placed under arrest.
The only evidence that he was ever there a large white sneaker sitting on the roof of his very banged up car.