PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The suspect who allegedly stole a police cruiser on Thursday morning has a lengthy history with police, Eyewitness News has learned.
Police said Donald Morgan, 35, stole a police cruiser around 9 a.m. on Route 146. Officials said Morgan was being transported to court for a hearing when the trooper driving stopped for a crash and the suspect – who was handcuffed – got into the front seat and drove off.
Morgan later ditched the police cruiser on Vineyard Street, according to R.I. State Police Lt. Col. Joseph Philbin. He also said the firearm that was in the cruiser was still there when the vehicle was located.
From there police launched a widespread search for the suspect through the city’s Elmwood neighborhood, with officers brandishing rifles and entering buildings accompanied by police dogs.
According to court records obtained by Eyewitness News, Morgan has had numerous encounters with police dating back to 2002.
“We definitely want him – that’s why we are putting out this information, so people can recognize him and let us know as soon as they can,” State Police Col. Ann Assumpico said.
In 2005, Morgan was charged with “escaping from custody.” He later pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor.
Court records show Morgan also served at the ACI after he was convicted of breaking and entering with criminal intent in 2013.
He has a shoplifting charge from July that had him scheduled for court on Nov. 6, as well.
A separate and new incident following a car accident on I-95 led to another arrest. According to the Rhode Island State Police website, Morgan was arrested just before 11 a.m. on Wednesday. Charges include obstruction of a police officer as well as possession of a stolen motor vehicle.
He was held overnight at the Lincoln Woods Barracks and was supposed to appear at Sixth District Court on Thursday, before he stole the police cruiser and dissappeared.
Eyewitness Tony Greenwood said there were a large number of police cars surrounding the area where the abandoned cruiser was located.
“This road was nonstop. From one end to the other, police cars,” Greenwood said, referring to Vineyard Street.
Police are still searching for Morgan and ask anyone who knows his whereabouts to contact Providence Police at (401) 272-3121 or the state police at (401) 444-1000.