Would that have changed what I done? No. Fourteen or not, he put all those kids in danger. I would do it again. —Bryson Rowley
SYRACUSE — Bryson Rowley could hear the police chase in a nearby neighborhood was circling around and headed back toward the park where he and his family were spending Saturday afternoon.
"I could just hear the sirens, and the sound of the car coming back toward the park and getting closer," he recalled Monday.
Knowing that just minutes earlier the vehicle had recklessly driven through a baseball field, forcing dozens of children to scramble out of the way to save their lives, Rowley got into his Dodge Ram pickup truck with the intent of blocking off the entrance to the park so the vehicle couldn't come through again.
"You could hear the turbo of the car getting closer. You could hear him coming back that way. So I was going to block the road that was the only entrance back into the park. By the time I got my truck there, he was making the corner to come in. So we impacted. I stopped him," he said.
Family members, friends and even strangers are hailing Rowley as a hero for bringing the fleeing suspect's reckless behavior to a stop. Neither Rowley nor the 14-year-old driver of the other vehicle were seriously injured.
The teen remained in the Farmington Bay Juvenile Detention Facility on Monday. He was arrested for investigation of possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of a stolen gun, evading police and driving without a license.
The young teen's criminal activity reportedly began Saturday in Duchesne County. Sheriff's deputies there said about 5 p.m. a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun was reported stolen by the boy's grandfather as well as a vehicle belonging to his grandmother. No one was home at the time the items were stolen, according to police, and there were no signs of forced entry.
A little over 24 hours later, Syracuse police were tipped off that the teen could be driving the stolen vehicle in their area. The car was spotted and a chase ensued.
During the chase, the boy drove through the Founders Park parking lot, 500 S. 1900 West. That's where Brandy Rowley was filming her husband and son at the skate park.
"I was videoing my husband doing some tricks and all of a sudden a car came speeding into the parking lot at the skate park, " she said. "He was kind of backed into a corner by two cops, evaded around him, took off, disappeared for about five minutes, then we hear him coming down Antelope Drive again."
Officers tried to stop the vehicle at 1290 South and 1000 West but the boy sped through a residential neighborhood. Police called off the chase due to safety concerns.
But the teen kept driving, and came back to the park. This time, Rowley said he went onto the grassy field where children were playing, forcing them to scramble for safety.
"All of a sudden he came towards them, driving through the field," she said. "(He) drove through the field, barely missing multiple kids."
"The kids had to jump out of the way, and jump over the curb," added Bryson Rowley. "(I was) dumbfounded. Couldn't believe it was happening."
When police took up the chase again, the Rowleys could hear the pursuit as it progressed through a nearby neighborhood. Fearing that the teen would come back through the park for a third time, Bryson Rowley jumped in his truck with the intent of blocking the road.
"I didn't want him to get back there with the kids. He didn't care the first time, the second time, so I didn't want anything bad to happen to them," he said. "The fact he showed no remorse for the kids ..."
Rowley said he was "dumbfounded" again when he discovered the driver of the fleeing vehicle was just 14 years old.
"Would that have changed what I done? No. Fourteen or not, he put all those kids in danger. I would do it again," he said.
Asked whether he was worried about being injured himself, Rowley replied, "Better me than one of the kids."
The front end of the the boy's vehicle suffered extensive damage. Rowley's truck appeared to only suffer a few scratches. But at least two companies have offered to repair his truck and replace any damaged parts free of charge.
On the Rowleys' Facebook page, friends and family members praised Bryson and Brandy's videos and pictures of the event has been shared more than 3,700 times by Monday.
The Rowleys have lived in Syracuse a long time.
His wife said Bryson loves all the kids in his neighborhood. She wasn't surprised by his actions.
"He'll do anything to protect them," she said. "So I'm not surprised he did it one bit."
Contributing: Mike Anderson