STAMFORD — A short chase resulted in the seizure of an illegal handgun early Friday morning, police said.

Capt. Richard Conklin said police officer Jillian Moller was on patrol when she spotted a vehicle driving without headlights in the area of 161 Richmond Hill Avenue and went to pull the car over. After stepping out of her patrol car and while approaching the car, the vehicle accelerated and sped off at a high rate of speed toward Tresser Boulevard, Conklin said.

Moller ran back to her cruiser and gave chase while radioing her location and asking for backup. As the 2015 Toyota Rav4 came up to Tresser, it abruptly stopped and three suspects jumped out, scattering in separate directions, police said.

A number of officers converged in the area and searched without finding the three.

About 10 feet away from the driver’s door police found a loaded .22 caliber Tauris semiautomatic pistol. Inside the car police also found two ski masks, commonly used during robberies.

Conklin said the vehicle was reported stolen in Stamford on May 25.

Police are analyzing the gun to determine where it came from and if it has been used in any shootings over the past few weeks.

“You wonder what they were doing driving around without headlights a little after 1 a.m., with a stolen car and a loaded pistol. You wonder what their motivations were,” he said. “Officer Jill Moller did a very good job and saw the car and went to investigate and got a stolen vehicle off the road and a illegal handgun off the street. Congratulations to her.”

jnickerson@stamfordadvocate.com