PORTLAND — A city man who was charged last month with threatening to kill his five children led police on a chase Wednesday and crashed his car into three vehicles before he was arrested.

The incident forced the closure of part of busy Forest Avenue for about four hours Wednesday morning.

Around 7:40 a.m., police responded to a report that Rahim Faleh, 49, was on the grounds of Portland Arts and Technology High School on Allen Avenue. Faleh had been arrested in January and charged with threatening to kill his children, police said, and his bail conditions prohibit him from having contact with them.

Court records indicate that two of the children attend Casco Bay High School, which operates in the same building as PATHS.

On their way to the school, officers saw Faleh driving on Allen Avenue. He fled after the officers turned in traffic to approach him, according to police.

Police said Faleh hit two moving cars near the intersection of Forest Avenue, clipping the right rear bumper of one, then drove outbound on Forest Avenue and hit a box truck on the 1300 block.

The truck rolled onto its side and went off the road. Faleh’s car was disabled. He got out of the car and lay on the ground, police said, and was arrested without further incident.

Police said Faleh is charged with reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, driving to endanger, criminal speeding, violating bail conditions and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident.

It wasn’t clear how fast Faleh was driving. Cmdr. Vern Malloch said the police department’s accident reconstruction squad would try to determine the speed. He said police were still catching up to Faleh’s car when it crashed for the final time.

“There was a high traffic volume at the time,” Malloch said. “His speed was certainly reckless.”

Police said the truck’s driver and Faleh suffered minor injuries. Paramedics helped the truck driver at the scene. Faleh was taken to Maine Medical Center, where he was expected to stay overnight for observation. An officer was guarding him at the hospital. No one was hurt in the first two cars that were hit.

After the incident in January, Faleh was charged with criminal threatening and assault, according to a police report. The officer wrote that Faleh’s oldest son, 18-year-old Islam Karim, said he and his siblings had been mentally and physically abused by their father since they left Iraq six years ago.

The father had severe mental health issues and extreme paranoia, according to the police report, and the children’s mother was still in Iraq. The children are now in the custody of the state Department of Health and Human Services, Malloch said.

Faleh had been released from jail in the past week, Malloch said. He was seen in his car in the PATHS parking lot, and it did not appear that he had approached students or entered any buildings, Malloch said.

After the chase, Forest Avenue was closed from Warren Avenue to Hicks Street — fourth-tenths of a mile — until about noon, as the accident reconstruction team did its work. Police are asking any witnesses to contact their traffic unit at 874-8532.

Staff Writer David Hench contributed to this report.


Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]