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Long IslandCrime

Woman fleeing police drives toward officers before crashing, cops say

The driver and her passenger, who had a gun and heroin after fleeing an earlier police stop, were arrested and charged, police said.

Police at the scene of the crash into

Police at the scene of the crash into a Suffolk County police vehicle in Farmingville on Tuesday night. Photo Credit: On Scene Photography inc./Christopher Sabella

Trying to evade Suffolk County police, a mother with her 19-month-old daughter in the backseat drove her car at two officers, who leapt out of the way before she crashed into a police vehicle blocking her path in Farmingville on Tuesday night, police said.

Sitting beside her was a man armed with a loaded handgun and carrying heroin, police said.

His bid to escape the state trooper who had stopped him for speeding on the Long Island Expressway less than an hour beforehand kicked off the tangle of crimes that involved state and Suffolk police and left both defendants facing multiple felonies after their arrests, police said.

The gun, which had an extended capacity magazine, and the heroin were seized from Joshua Francois, 23, of Middle Island, State Police said. The mother, Casandra Diaferio, 32, of Coram, was arrested and charged by Suffolk police. 

The infant was unharmed, Stony Brook University Hospital determined. No other serious injuries were reported.

Francois was driving west in a white BMW on the Long Island Expressway when stopped by a trooper near Exit 65 in Medford at 8:03 p.m., State Police said in a statement. He took off before the trooper got out of his vehicle. 

The trooper gave chase and the pursuit ended on Allegheny Drive at the border of Medford and Farmingville, where Francois ran off, State Police said. 

Francois' passenger was detained where this first pursuit ended and released with no charges, State Police said.

State Police did not say what brought the chase to a halt. Earlier, officials said the suspect had crashed into a mailbox near North Ocean Avenue and Granny Road.

Francois, now a fugitive, called Diaferio to pick him up, police said. Police are investigating whether she knew the circumstances when she did so.

Suffolk police helped troopers track down Diaferio's 2012 Infiniti, officials said. At 9:55 p.m., a short distance from where Francois had run off, Diaferio "attempted to flee the scene by driving the Infiniti at two officers," police said.

Francois was charged with multiple drug felonies and criminal possession of a weapon. The misdemeanors he faces are unlawful fleeing from a police officer, endangering the welfare of a child, reckless driving and unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

Diaferio was charged with felony reckless endangerment, attempted assault of a police officer and criminal mischief, and a misdemeanor, endangering the welfare of a child.

Her daughter was released to a relative's care, police said.

Diaferio was arraigned Wednesday. Her bail was set at $15,000 bond or $7,500 cash, according to online court records.

Diaferio is represented by the Legal Aid Society of Suffolk County, the court records state. That office declined to comment.

Francois's arraignment information was not available in online court records. His attorney information was also not available.

With Ellen Yan and Zachary R. Dowdy

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