Carjack Suspect Finds No Sanctuary At The Altar

Posted: July 03, 1998

The prosecutor could have called hundreds of witnesses to the carjacker's high-speed minivan and foot chase that ended under the altar of a Northern Liberties church on April 29.

People all across the city saw the late-afternoon action, including rush-hour drivers on Interstate 95 and visitors along South Street.

But Assistant District Attorney Kenneth McDaniel yesterday needed only a few key people to make out his case against David Collins, 30, of Mt. Ephraim, N.J., at a preliminary hearing before Municipal Judge William A. Meehan Jr.

Collins, who has a record for car theft, was ordered to stand trial on carjacking, aggravated assault on two cops, theft and related charges. He was committed to prison in lieu of $100,000 bail.

``He tried to get away at all costs, including attempting to injure or kill police officers,'' said McDaniel.

Delores Berger described being rammed into a pole after she tried to prevent her van from being stolen by grabbing a door as the thief backed away at Frankford and Castor avenues about a week before the chase.

Berger, who had left the van to buy water ice, could not identify Collins, but a relative did. Berger suffered a serious eye injury.

Collins was in the van when he led cops through the city for about 45 minutes, bucking traffic on I-95 and other streets, and trying to run over police.

At one point, he pinned an officer's legs with the van at a South Philadelphia roadblock, and dodged bullets to escape.

McDaniel said when Collins realized a tire was flattened in Center City, he fled on foot to the tracks of the Frankford El. SEPTA cut power as officers entered the tracks.

Later, Collins slid down a 20-foot drain and was found hiding under the altar inside the Immaculate Conception Church rectory at Front and Pollard streets.

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