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At least a half dozen state police vehicles sat in the Hooksett Market Basket parking lot after Troopers pursued a wanted suspect to the store early Monday. (Ryan O'Connor/Union Leader Correspondent)

Aircraft tails speeding suspect to Hooksett parking lot

HOOKSETT – With the help of a state police aircraft, New Hampshire Troopers were able to arrest a fleeing suspect who crashed his car with two children in it and ingested a large quantity of drugs before leading police to a local grocery store early Monday.

New Hampshire State Police Sgt. Paul Hunt said Eric B. Smith, 29, of Concord, was arrested on an outstanding warrant after a traffic control aircraft clocked the 2012 white Nissan Versa sedan he was driving at 82 m.p.h. while traveling southbound on Interstate 93 around 8 a.m.

According to a New Hampshire State Police press release, Trooper First Class Dan Needham initially stopped the vehicle, but Smith accelerated and fled as Needham approached the car.

Hunt said police pursued the vehicle at high speeds until Smith got off the highway at Exit 11 in Hooksett and began maneuvering through surface streets.

"We backed off from the pursuit," said Hunt. "There was no reason for us to be pursuing the vehicle at high speeds once you get into densely populated areas."

The aircraft, however, followed Smith's vehicle down Route 3 to Market Basket in Hooksett, located at 30 Market Drive, off Exit 10, where he parked near the back of the parking lot. With the help of Hooksett and Manchester police, Troopers secured each exit to the store and parking lot.

"We found a male suspect walking along the side streets. He was identified and there was an active warrant for his arrest," said Hunt.

Hunt said police, through use of Market Basket video surveillance, were able to identify the driver and three passengers, including a 28-year-old female and her 6- and 8-year-old children, who were in the car with him during the pursuit.

In addition, investigators report Smith was involved in a motor vehicle crash at the Hooksett Transfer Station while trying to elude officers, and also allege he ingested a "large quantity" of narcotics while fleeing police, which prompted them to transport him to Catholic Medical Center for treatment. Smith was booked on several charges, including an outstanding warrant for escape and probation violation connected to an unrelated arrest in Maine.

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