An auto theft suspect who jumped into a Tucson police cruiser Sunday morning led authorities on a wild 50-mile chase up Interstate 10 after dragging a police sergeant down the street, authorities said.
The sergeant tried in vain to pull the unidentified man out of his car as the suspect sped away, then fired a shot at the suspect when he tried to dislodge the officer by driving into a wall, Tucson police spokesman Sgt. Matt Ronstadt said.
The sergeant, Kyle Robinson, suffered minor scrapes, bumps and bruises when he eventually came loose from his car, Ronstadt said.
Other officers then chased the stolen cruiser, with one trying to ram it from behind to stop it. That maneuver failed, and a short chase by police was called off by a supervisor when the suspect began driving at extremely high speeds into oncoming traffic on a major Tucson boulevard, Ronstadt said. The supervisor followed policy forbidding pursuits for only property crimes and wasn't aware the driver had tried to assault Robinson or that the officer had fired at him.
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Other officers spotted the speeding patrol car several times as it made its way west toward Interstate 10, then started chasing the suspect again when he entered I-10 and started heading toward Phoenix.
Tucson officers lost sight of the stolen police car, but Department of Public Safety officers saw it heading out of town and took up the chase, with Tucson police right behind, Ronstadt said.
The suspect sped north on westbound I-10 at speeds in excess of 120 mph before he was finally forced to stop outside Casa Grande, Ronstadt said. He ran away but was caught, and after a struggle where an officer may have used a Taser, was finally subdued.
He had no major injuries, either from the shot fired by Sgt. Robinson or his other confrontation with officers.
Ronstadt said the wild morning began about 10:40 a.m. when an officer took a call about a suspicious vehicle parked in the desert near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ronstadt said.
The officer found a stolen minivan and was trying to detain a man at gunpoint until other officers arrived when the man raw away. He led the officer into a nearby neighborhood, where he began jumping fences into yards.
Sgt. Robinson arrived and was driving on East Calle Aurora when the suspect jumped over a home's block wall and into the street in front of him. Robinson got out of his car and gave chase, but the suspect doubled back and jumped into the officer's car. Robinson was right behind, and tried to pull the man from his car as he began to drive away.
"He drove onto the sidewalk, into a mailbox post and straight towards a block wall, that if he had struck it would have hit right on the driver's side where the sergeant was," Ronstadt said.
A routine investigation into the shooting was being done, he said.
As for the suspect, he was headed back to Tucson Sunday afternoon.
"He's facing numerous felony charges," Ronstadt said. "I'm not sure exactly what he'll be charged with, but they probably have a long list."