Airsoft Gun Related News: Carjacker Nabbed After Hitting Ferndale Dealership

Suspect thought to be tied to Troy incident, as well

FERNDALE/TROY — A convicted thief suspected of forcibly stealing vehicles from car dealerships in Ferndale and Troy was arrested following a police chase on Woodward Avenue near I-696.

According to Ferndale Police Detective Lt. Bill Wilson, at around 3 p.m. on Oct. 21, Ferndale officers responded to a reported armed robbery at the Fresard Buick-Pontiac-GMC dealership at 21800 Woodward Ave.

The caller indicated that a Fresard salesman had been showing vehicles to the suspect, 21-year-old Bryan Lance of Pontiac, in the dealership lot when Lance put a gun to the salesman’s head and stole a used 2009 Chrysler 300. He then took off down northbound Woodward, Wilson said, and officers from Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Berkley and Royal Oak began a high-speed pursuit.

As Detective Brendan Moore noted, “Carjackings are fairly common, but it’s pretty unusual for something like this to happen at a dealership.”

Moments after the theft, a Pleasant Ridge officer conducting a traffic stop on Main Street near 10 Mile Road observed the stolen vehicle pass him as it headed northbound on Main, Wilson said. The officer followed Lance to a nearby parking lot, but as he approached the suspect vehicle, it drove back onto Main and sped away traveling southbound.

Near 10 Mile and Main, Lance crashed head-on into an SUV occupied by a man and woman. The collision did not cause any injuries to the passengers, however.

“(Lance) couldn’t have been going that fast when he made contact with the car,” Moore said. “It appears that he slowed down significantly and tried to swerve around them.”

Lance then exited the stolen car, pulling out a fake handgun as he began to run southbound on Woodward, Wilson said. Witnesses on the road reported that Lance pointed the gun toward them and then toward a Ferndale officer, who was exiting her vehicle and preparing to approach the suspect from the south.

“Our officer had been monitoring the pursuit on the radio,” Moore said. “She was already stopped, and then she saw him running toward her with a gun pointed in her direction.”

The officer responded by firing two shots at Lance, which missed him but caused him to surrender to police. Wilson stressed that no one was hurt in the incident.

After Lance was arrested, the officers discovered that his weapon was not a real gun, but a toy airsoft pistol. “It’s not at all uncommon for criminals to use a toy gun like that,” Moore explained. “Those airsoft guns look very realistic and could absolutely pass for a real handgun.”

The officers also found that Lance was in possession of some fake police gear, including a phony police badge and some toy handcuffs. Moore stated that Ferndale police are still investigating why Lance was in possession of these items.

“That’s the real stumper of the case,” he said. “We have no clue why he had that stuff, and he’s not saying anything about it. It’s entirely possible that he was using them to impersonate a police officer.”

On Oct. 23, Lance was arraigned in Ferndale 43rd District Court on charges of carjacking, armed robbery and fleeing and eluding police. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison. Magistrate Larue Mead set bond at $900,000 cash or surety and scheduled a pre-exam conference for Nov. 5.

Troy police believe that Lance could also be responsible for an Oct. 20 carjacking at the Elder Ford dealership at 777 John R Road.

“We’re looking very closely at him as a possible suspect,” said Troy Police Lt. Michael Lyczkowski. He said that evidence police confiscated from Lance following his arrest in Ferndale may link him to the Elder Ford incident.

Moore confirmed that this was a strong possibility. “There is evidence that leads us to believe he was involved in the crime in Troy,” he said. “He has also been convicted for stealing cars in Troy over the last two years.”

According to reports about the Elder Ford case, the suspect asked to talk to a salesperson about a specific Ford Fusion, a 2010 SEL, for sale in the new car lot.

Police said the man got into the driver’s seat of the Fusion while the salesperson stood outside the vehicle. The man then reportedly pulled a black semi-automatic pistol from the waistband of his pants, pointed it at the salesperson and demanded the keys to the car, Lyczkowski said.

After the salesperson handed over the keys, the man told him to walk away, and then fled the lot in the Fusion, police said. Highland Park police later recovered the Fusion abandoned, but with no visible damage, in that city at around 12:45 a.m. on Oct. 22.

By Jeremy Selweski and Terry Oparka (C & G Staff Writers)

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