Suspect identified after semi-truck chase, manhunt in Summit County

Published: May. 11, 2023 at 4:49 PM EDT|Updated: May. 15, 2023 at 12:22 PM EDT
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SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - A man was taken into custody following a pursuit and search in Summit County Thursday evening, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

He was found in a wooded area unconscious at the bottom of a ravine in the 2300 block of Boston Mills Road in Brecksville around 6:45 pm.

OSHP said the suspect, who has been identified as Ali Abdul Esaleh, 47, of Buffalo, New York, was in possession of a firearm.

The man was taken to an area hospital in critical condition.

OSHP said just before 3:00 p.m., troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Medina Post responded to I-271 North near I-71 for a reported truck driver who allegedly brandished a firearm toward a vehicle repair worker in Granger Township in Medina County.

Police searching for suspect in woods in Summit County.
Police searching for suspect in woods in Summit County.(Catherine McClellan)

Troopers said they found the truck parked on the shoulder of the northbound lanes of I-271 but Esaleh disconnected the cab from the trailer and fled the scene northbound.

OSHP attempted to pull the vehicle over but failed and a pursuit started on I-271 near state Route 94 in Medina County.

The pursuit continued into Summit County where stop sticks were deployed by Richfield Township Police.

Police said the truck cab hit a Richfield police cruiser before it went off the left side of the highway and struck a guardrail near state Route 303.

Richfield police cruiser damaged
Richfield police cruiser damaged((Source; Richfield police))

Motorist Monique Hornsby of Geauga County was driving just behind the State Highway Patrol and says she was shocked by the actions of the truck driver, “It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen a truck drive like that. I was watching this truck go side to side, all over the road, and then hit a Sheriff’s vehicle.”

Esaleh then exited the vehicle and fled on foot into a wooded area with a firearm, according to OSHP.

A young woman named Andrea from Richfield, who asked that we not use her last name, tells 19 News she had just arrived home from work when police knocked on her door, “They asked if I heard any gunshots, but I did not. Then, they asked me to close all my doors and lock up and get in a secure location, because there was an armed man in the woods behind my house. I closed all the doors and started crying,”

Andrea says she was locked up tight in her home for over two hours, as the State Patrol, SWAT officers and patrol officers from various agencies searched the wooded area near her home.

The young woman’s mother Ida Rykalla tells 19 News, “They just kept swarming the woods and saying he was back there somewhere. We were just thankful that they caught him, found him.”

The incident remains under investigation.

Esaleh is facing a charges of failure to comply and felonious assault as well as a weapons charge.