Police: Man leads cops on 100-mph chase down I-5 after 'Vegas-style' shooting threat
A retired military man in a red Mazda led police on a heart-pounding chase down Interstate 5 Wednesday at speeds of over 100 mph as he tried to ram other cars after threatening a "Las Vegas style shooting," police said.
The chase came to an end 90 miles from where it began after the suspect crashed into another car, spun off the freeway and landed near railroad tracks in Cowlitz County.
Cowlitz County sheriff's officials said the drama began Wednesday afternoon when the 35-year-old Lakewood man, who reportedly has PTSD, was approached by military police at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
The man then fled the base in the red Mazda, almost hitting a military police officer as he sped off. JBLM police pursued the suspect as he headed south on I-5 until Washington State Patrol troopers could take over the pursuit, according to sheriff's officials.
Troopers called off the pursuit at the Lewis-Cowlitz county line, but the suspect continued heading south on I-5 at high speed.
Castle Rock police then spotted the Mazda speeding down I-5 at over 100 mph. The Mazda collided with a semi truck about a mile from the Castle Rock exit but kept heading south at high speed and police continued their pursuit, sheriff's officials said.
At about this time, around 4 p.m., Cowlitz County deputies received an urgent report that "a retired military man with PTSD had threatened to commit a 'Las Vegas' style shooting and was being pursued by law enforcement south on I-5," according to sheriff's officials.
Cowlitz deputies took over the pursuit at this point, and a report from the Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office describes what happened next:
"Cowlitz Deputy Geary Enbody saw the car at (milepost) 42. As Deputy Enbody entered the freeway the suspect rapidly swerved from the 'fast' lane over the middle lane to the slow lane in an obvious attempt to crash in to Deputy Enbody's patrol car.
"Deputy Enbody was able to brake hard and serve toward the guardrail to avoid being hit. The suspect rapidly sped to over 100 mph southbound. As other deputies joined to help, Castle Rock dropped out of the pursuit.
"At one point in the pursuit the suspect rapidly swerved at other vehicles trying to cause them to crash. ... The driver swerved over all three lanes to get in front of a truck pulling a horse trailer and slammed on the brakes - causing the truck and horse trailer to slam on their brakes. This was an extremely dangerous event and fortunately that truck driver narrowly avoided crashing. The suspect did this to another driver, also.
"The suspect continued southbound and erratically slowed down to 45 mph swerving over all three lanes and alternately sped up to over 100 mph on several occasions. The suspect was also passing people on the shoulder of the freeway."
A few miles farther down the freeway, the suspect attempted to pass a woman's car on the left shoulder but ended up crashing into her car. The suspect then lost control of the Mazda and it spun off and landed near the BNSF railroad tracks.
The suspect then jumped out of the car and was taken into custody. He sustained a cut on the head during the crash. After his injury was treated, he was booked into the Cowlitz County Jail for investigation of first-degree assault, eluding police, hit-and-run and reckless endangerment.
Police say the suspect was not armed. No other details were immediately available about his military service.
The woman whose car was struck received a cut on her head but did not require medical attention. Her car was heavily damaged.
The driver of the semi truck hit earlier in the chase was not injured.