Police, deputy sheriffs, K-9 units and a helicopter spent nearly two hours Thursday scouring an area off the Long Island Expressway in Melville for an armed carjacker, police said, only to learn after his capture that the apparent victims had made the whole story up.
"They had originally claimed that they had been carjacked at gunpoint," said Michael Sharkey, the Suffolk sheriff's chief of staff. "In their twisted logic, they had concocted that story to prevent the driver from being arrested."
The fictional saga took form shortly after a Suffolk deputy sheriff stopped a car on the LIE service road near Pinelawn Road, Sharkey said. The car had been traveling at over 90 mph on the expressway, police said.
The driver, David Evanson, 23, of Deer Park, got out of the car and ran, initially eluding the deputy sheriff, Sharkey said.
Three passengers remained with the car -- James Ortiz, 19, of Central Islip; Ira Zuckerman, 20, and Tatiana Salto, 19, both of Deer Park. "They made claims that they had been carjacked in Wyandanch" by an unknown man at gunpoint, Sharkey said.
But actually, they were friends of Evanson, Sharkey said. They thought that by denying knowledge of his identity, Evanson could avoid getting arrested, he said.
Evanson had an active outstanding warrant for resisting arrest, Sharkey said, and was driving with a suspended license Thursday when he was found violating numerous other traffic regulations.
Based on their carjacking claim, additional deputy sheriffs and Suffolk police units were called in, along with K-9 units from both departments and a police helicopter.
"Their claim really caused numerous resources to be brought to bear," Sharkey said, and about 6:30 p.m., Evanson was captured.
"After his arrest their story unraveled," Sharkey said, and the three passengers were also taken into custody, charged with making a false police report.