HAZLETON — A violent incident that began in Hazleton stretched across two counties and three states, before a man was taken into custody on the George Washington Bridge in New York City.
Speaking of the suspect, authorities in Luzerne County say “he snapped,” abducting a woman at gunpoint, stealing cars, causing fear among kids on a school bus, and then allegedly crashing a stolen SUV on the busiest bridge in the Big Apple.
Police admit this case is confusing and it was terrifying.
Two women from Hazleton were flown to hospitals with assault injuries.
Now, Luis Figueroa is expected to be slapped with serious charges in three states
“This man snapped today. He snapped. And I can guarantee you one thing: had that bus driver opened the door, this would be a much different press conference,” said Hazleton Police Chief Frank DeAndrea.
Chief DeAndrea says a bus driver did not open the door for a beaten, pregnant woman on Church Street this morning because the driver saw Luis Figueroa with a shotgun outside.
Figueroa, 33, is accused of abducting another woman and driving to the Deleware Water Gap area.
Authorities say the abducted woman escaped. Both injured women were flown to hospitals. Figueroa assaulted a National Park employee and stole his vehicle.
Figueroa then drove to Patterson, New Jersey, where he’s accused of stealing an SUV.
“He beat the dealer, set the dealership on fire, attempted to burn the car dealer himself, and fled in a stolen Cadillac Escalade.”
Police say the three-state crime spree ended when Figueroa crashed into police cruisers on the New Jersey and the New York sides of the George Washington Bridge.
In Hazleton, school district superintendent Francis Antonelli praised the bus driver for keeping the door closed.
“She prevented a bad situation from being exponentially worse.”
Luzerne County’s district attorney says keeping the man with a gun away from a school bus likely prevented more tragedy.
“The bus driver, she is a hero in my eyes. And she should be a hero in everyone else’s,” said Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis.
The pregnant woman, the abducted woman, and that park employee are all in the hospital with assault injuries.
Our ABC affiliate in New York says two officers there were hurt and Figueroa was taken to the hospital with burn injuries.
There is no word on a motive sparking this three-state rampage.