By Howard Cohen and Joey Flechas Miami Herald
MIAMI — Miami police say a man intentionally crashed his car into the utility room of a Miami police substation Friday morning, prompting a bomb scare after a safe was found inside the vehicle.
After investigating for about three hours, the bomb squad determined that there was no threat inside the older model Chevrolet Impala that careened through a gate behind the North District Sub Station in the Liberty City neighborhood.
The crash occurred at around 7 a.m. Authorities now believe the driver, 36-year-old Giftson Cherefant, intentionally drove through the gate and smashed into the back of the station, breaching a utility room.
No one was inside the room, and Cherefant was the only person injured. Police Chief Jorge Colina said that after investigators reviewed surveillance tape of the accident they believe Cherefant acted intentionally, but it is unclear why.
Colina said the video shows the driver crashing through the gate and gaining speed again as he plowed through the station’s rear exterior wall.
Colina said Cherefant does not have violent past. A search of Cherefant’s driving record found he had been issued 32 traffic citations since 2000, including four for knowingly driving with a suspended license.
“There really is nothing in his history that would indicate why he behaved this way,” Colina said. “He does have a history of narcotics use. We don’t know if that’s a factor here. It’s too early to tell.”
Cherefant has two convictions for felony cocaine possession and three misdemeanor charges for possession of marijuana, but served no time in Florida.
Colina added that members of Cherefant’s family told investigators he was acting “peculiar” and “differently than he normally would” in recent days.
Cherefant was pinned in the driver’s seat of the Impala after the collision. He was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries and is in stable condition as investigators interview him.
The incident closed nearby streets and an evacuation of nearby buildings as the bomb squad investigated the safe. Authorities also recovered a rifle in the Impala. Police spokeswoman Kiara Delva said investigators were looking into whether that firearm was licensed.
Charges are pending.
(Miami Herald staff writer David Neal contributed to this report.)
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