Suspect in custody after two-county chase


Local News

December 20, 2019 - 3:49 PM

A cluster of law enforcement vehicles along Hawaii Road and U.S. 169 Friday morning, following an extended car chase. The suspect was later arrested. REGISTER/BOB JOHNSON

After a bizarre chase that included the attempted theft of a helicopter Friday morning, a suspect is in custody. 

The two-county chase began in Chanute and ended in a wooded area just east of Humboldt, where the suspect, identified as Justin Wessels, 48, Broken Arrow, Okla., was subdued by a law enforcement K-9 unit.

A press release from the Chanute Police Department, complemented with comments from Allen County Sheriff Bryan Murphy, who was a part of the chase once it left Neosho County, offered the bizarre details.

Following an incident at Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center, the suspect apparently broke into a nearby air hangar, which holds helicopters for Midwest AeroCare.

The suspect started the motor to one of the helicopters, Murphy said, but did not get it off the ground before jumping into a nearby vehicle as officers arrived. Officers? attempts to stop the vehicle were unsuccessful.

During the subsequent pursuit that reached speeds in excess of 95 mph north of Chanute, the driver turned off a county road onto an agricultural road where it proceeded to get stuck in a fence row. 

The suspect was then able to free the vehicle, and turned his vehicle around to drive straight at pursuing officers. One of the officers discharged his weapon at the

oncoming vehicle.

The suspect then made it back onto the county road, making  his way north into Allen County, and then Humboldt.

In an attempt to lose the pursuing officers, the suspect drove his car onto railroad tracks near the Beachner Grain facility, where he went a short distance before getting stuck.

He then fled on foot to a nearby residence, where he spotted a running vehicle.

?The owner saw him as he was getting into the vehicle,? Murphy said. ?They even made eye contact.?

He didn?t go far, however, traveling about four blocks on 13th Street before parking the stolen car in a garage, Murphy said.

A parked Camaro had apparently caught the suspect?s eye, Murphy said. 

The car had no keys, but the house was unlocked, the sheriff said, so the suspect entered the residence. The owners were not home, but their teen-age daughter was.

The suspect saw the teen, made a brief comment, then grabbed the keys to the Camaro and left in the vehicle, Murphy said.

Officers found the Camaro east of town near an oil lease on Hawaii Road.

A suspect is accused of stealing this vehicle from a Humboldt residence during a two-county chase that ended with his arrest Friday morning east of Humboldt. REGISTER/BOB JOHNSON