Willoughby police: Man smashed dealership windows, stole car before crash

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WILLOUGHBY, Ohio (WJW)– The Willoughby Police Department released additional details about the carjacking and chase on Saturday that led to the arrest of a 33-year-old man.

It started when a family member of Nicholas Giardini asked Mentor police to perform a welfare check. Police from Mentor and Kirtland Hills both tried to stop Giardini on state Route 306, but the pursuit was called off because of his reckless driving, according to police. Willoughby police were notified about the fleeing car on state Route 84 shortly after 1 p.m.

Nicholas Giardini mugshot
Nicholas Giardini (Photo courtesy: Willoughby police)

Officers found Giardini’s unoccupied car in front of Leikin Motors on Mentor Avenue in Willoughby. While officers searched for the suspect, Willoughby dispatchers started receiving calls about a man inside the car dealership breaking windows with a metal pipe.

Witnesses told police Giardini grabbed several keys off of a desk in the dealership and tried to use them to start cars. When none of them worked, he found a 2-foot-long piece of angle iron and smashed a window, police said.

He forced a customer and salesman from a Volvo SUV, according to Willoughby police. That’s when another dealership employee, who is a concealed carry permit holder, fired at the suspect, believing the angle iron was a rifle, police said.

The shots hit the driver’s side of the Volvo and no one was injured by the gunfire. But Giardini got away in the stolen car.

Police said Giardini continued to flee on Interstate 90, before hitting a retaining wall and flattening his tires. He got off the freeway at East 222nd Street in Euclid, where he hit another vehicle, police said. A third crash happened in the parking lot of Rick Case Honda on East 200th Street. He was finally taken into police custody.

Giardini was arraigned in Willoughby Municipal Court on charges of robbery, grand theft of a motor vehicle, vandalism and possession of drug abuse instruments. Additional charges are pending the results of lab tests. More are possible from other police departments.

He’s being held at the Lake County Jail on $150,000 bond.

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