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Victim dragged while clinging to vehicle to stop carjacking, police say

Suspect accused of stealing car from victim's driveway

Thomas Eichelberger
Thomas Eichelberger

ORLANDO, Fla. – A victim clung onto his driver's side door after a carjacker stole the vehicle and began to drive it carelessly down the street, according to the Orlando Police Department.

Officers said they responded to a call Monday at 6:15 a.m. near the corner of Winter Park Street and Formosa Avenue where they made contact with the victim and the suspect.

With abrasions on his hands and head, the victim said he had started his 2010 gray Infinity when he noticed his neighbors set out their recycling bins on the street for pickup. He went back inside his house with the car still running to determine whether it was trash day.

About three minutes later, he came back outside to find his car no longer in the driveway, the affidavit said. He looked down the street to see it being driven away, which is when he started to chase after it.

He was able to reach the car and open the driver's side door, which is when the suspect screamed at and punched the victim, police said. In an attempt to remove the owner from the car, the driver began to accelerate and drive carelessly down the street, according to authorities.

Fearing for his life, the victim released from the vehicle, which is when another driver came up behind and offered assistance, the report said. The victim then called authorities using the driver's phone.

During the pursuit, the car the victim was in struck another vehicle, causing him to leave the scene and chase after his own car once again. The victim's car was abandoned at the intersection of Harrison Avenue and Winter Park Street. The suspect fled on foot as the victim was chasing him. Before they made contact, an officer arrived at the scene, according to the arrest affidavit.

The abandoned, push-start car had no occupants inside when a witness approached officers to explain he helped the man retrieve the car, police said. 

All of the victim's possessions were recovered from the car and the vehicle was returned to him.

The suspect was identified as Thomas Eichelberger, 26, the affidavit said. The victim did not know him prior to the incident.

Eichelberger was arrested on charges of carjacking and providing false identification to law enforcement officers.