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Police chase suspected shoplifter from Harmar into Pittsburgh

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Monday, Nov. 19, 2012, 9:16 p.m.

A suspected shoplifter is accused of ramming a Harmar police car and leading officers on a Monday afternooon rush-hour chase through several communities and the wrong direction across the Highland Park Bridge, crashing into five vehicles along the way.

A township police officer fired a shot when the man tried to run him down, but there were no injuries reported, Harmar police Chief Jason Domaratz said.

“Nobody was injured, not even the suspect, so it was a good day,” he said.

Brandon Cafeo, 23, of Bloomfield was taken to Night Court for arraignment on charges including aggravated assault on a police officer, court records show.

Police were called about 4:15 p.m. by security personnel at the Target store along Freeport Road for the report of a man who was heading toward the fire escape with a flat-screen television set, Domaratz said.

As Patrolmen Allan J. Yonek and Brian Swetof tried to block his sport utility vehicle parked outside the door, Cafeo rammed one of the police vehicles twice, the chief said.

Yonek, fearing he would be crushed between the vehicles, fired a shot through the passenger window, prompting Cafeo to speed away on Freeport Road through Blawnox and Aspinwall and then inbound on the outbound lanes of the Highland Park Bridge, Domaratz said.

“He made it almost all the way across the bridge to the ramp to Butler Street where he bailed out, maybe because of the heavy volume of traffic,” Pittsburgh police Sgt. Michael Pilyih said.

Cafeo jumped down a 20-foot embankment before fleeing into the weeds along the Allegheny River.

“By that time, the area was flooded with officers and K-9s and there was pretty much nowhere else he could go. He was kaput,” Pilyih said.

An officer from O'Hara spotted Cafeo in the weeds and took him into custody with the aid of a city police officer.

Michael Hasch is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7820 or at

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