WILLOUGHBY, Ohio — A man was arrested after vandalizing and robbing a car dealership Saturday afternoon, according to the Willoughby Police Department.
Mentor police had received a call from family members to check on the welfare of 33-year-old Nicholas Giardini, who appeared to be in some type of distress and left his residence. Before Mentor police arrived at the residence, Kirtland Hills police located his vehicle and attempted to initiate a traffic stop, authorities said.
When police attempted to stop Giardini, he fled in the vehicle. Police called off the pursuit due to the reckless manner of Giardini’s driving, according to police.
A short time later, Mentor police officers found Giardini’s vehicle disabled in front of Leikin Motors on Mentor Avenue and it was believed he had fled the area on foot. As additional officers were called to assist, dispatch began receiving calls that a man was inside of Leikin Motors smashing windows with a metal pipe, police said.
Police learned that Giardini entered the dealership, grabbed several keys off a desk and attempted to use them to start cars.
"You can imagine, in his attempt to flee, it's probably not that easy if you're calm to find the right car that matches up to that key," said Detective Lt. Matthew Tartaglia of the Willoughby Police Department.
When none of the keys worked, police said Giardini ran back outside. He then smashed a window of the dealership with a metal pipe, re-entered the dealership through the broken window and ran out of a side door where a customer and salesman were sitting inside a Volvo, according to police.
Giardini opened the door of the Volvo and forced the customer and salesman out of the car, causing minor injuries to the customer, police said.
Another dealership employee who is a concealed carry permit holder ran out of the dealership. He believed the pipe Giardini used to break the window was a rifle and that he was beating the customer and salesman with it.
"You have to make a decision at that point, and he decided to go in there and protect one of the customers that was in his store," said Tartaglia.
The employee fired a single shot from his handgun, which struck the side of the vehicle, according to police.
Giardini then fled in the Volvo, heading west on Mentor Avenue, police said.
Willowick and Wickliffe police officers spotted the Volvo on Interstate 90, and when they attempted to stop Giardini, he fled and struck a retaining wall along the highway, which caused the driver's side tires to go flat, according to police.
Giardini exited the highway at the East 222nd Street exit in Euclid and was involved with a crash with another vehicle. He continued driving and was involved in another crash with a second vehicle in the parking lot of Rick Case Honda on East 200th Street, police said.
At that point, officers were able to take Giardini into custody.
Authorities found several used syringes inside the original vehicle Giardini was driving, police said. Police said those syringes are at the lab for analysis.
Giardini was arraigned in the Willoughby Municipal Court Monday. He was charged with robbery, grand theft of a motor vehicle, vandalism and possession of drug abuse instruments and may face additional drug charges, according to police.
A manager at Leiken Motors said Tuesday he was grateful no one was seriously injured and that workers are looking forward to moving past what happened.
Giardini is being held in the Lake County Jail on a $150,000 cash or surety bond, police said.