Car chase ends in crash, fire that damaged several businesses at Atlanta strip mall

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Fire Department was called to a strip mall early Friday morning as fire ripped through several businesses.

The location is on Piedmont Road and Cheshire Bridge Road.

Georgia State Patrol told Channel 2 Action News that a trooper clocked 21-year-old Theodore Merchant driving more than 100 mph in a 55 mph zone on I-75/85 north split around 4:05 a.m. When the trooper attempted to conduct a traffic stop on Merchant, who was in a Porsche, authorities said he drove off onto Buford Highway.

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At the intersection of Piedmont Road and Cheshire Bridge Road, GSP said Merchant hit a raised concrete island, left the roadway and crashed into the businesses.

Merchant was able to get out of the car without any serious injuries. But the car caught fire and it rapidly spread to the businesses.

“There was a substantial amount of fire,” Atlanta fire Battalion Chief Douglas Hatcher told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Some structural damage and sagging of the roof — that’s why we haven’t sent anybody back inside.”


The fire started in a finance business.

“It’s not the first time a car has run into the building from that corner, but it’s the first time that it caused this much damage,” said Anita Ford, the owner of the business plaza.

Some of the businesses in the strip mall include a Papa John’s Pizza, Supercuts and a chiropractic office.

Merchant was expected to be booked into the Fulton County Jail after being treated at Grady Memorial Hospital for minor injuries.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this article.