High-speed chase in northwest Douglas County
Lawrence police, Douglas County Sheriff's deputies and other law enforcement agencies chased a vehicle whose driver was connected to a break-in that happened in Lawrence earlier Tuesday. The chase lasted for 45 minutes and covered much of northwest Douglas County. A Lawrence police officer was struck by the fleeing vehicle. Another officer stopped the chase a few minutes later by striking the fleeing vehicle with his vehicle. Police arrested Barbara Jo Schnegelsiepen, 27, of Topeka, in connection with the incident.
The Topeka woman accused of injuring a Lawrence police officer Tuesday during a high-speed chase faces two felony counts of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and nine other charges.
Barbara Jo Schnegelsiepen, 27, made her first court appearance Wednesday afternoon.
“I didn’t mean to,” the suspect said during her Douglas County District Court hearing, in which she appeared via videoconference from the county jail.
Schnegelsiepen is accused of burglarizing two Lawrence homes and then leading law officers on a chase that extended to rural areas of Douglas County.
Lawrence Police Officer Doug Payne was struck by the fleeing vehicle on U.S. Highway 40 east of Big Springs, shortly before the chase ended. A police spokeswoman said Payne was in good condition Wednesday afternoon at a Kansas City-area hospital.
“She drove directly at him and intentionally struck him,” said David Melton, chief assistant district attorney.
Schnegelsiepen faces one count of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer. She’s also accused of aggravated battery against Lawrence Police Officer Hayden Fowler and aggravated assault on Kansas Highway Patrolman Kyle Moomau. The fleeing vehicle allegedly hit Fowler’s police car and forced Moomau’s cruiser off the road.
Melton said the suspect also drove directly at civilian vehicles during the pursuit.
In addition, Schnegelsiepen is charged with two counts of aggravated burglary, both felonies. Those charges, prosecutors said, are in connection with burglaries Tuesday morning at two occupied Lawrence homes. One home was in the 2700 block of Wildflower in southwest Lawrence and the other in the 3100 block Tomahawk Drive in northwest Lawrence.
Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson’s office claims that after the burglaries, Schnegelsiepen fled when a police officer signaled her to stop. And Branson’s office alleges she stole two vehicles — a 2007 Jeep Wrangler and a Dodge Stratus — and several other items, including a Coach purse, a Sprint Rumor cell phone, a garage door opener, a lighter and perfume bottles. She also faces a reckless driving charge.
Schnegelsiepen is charged with a total of 11 counts, eight of which are felonies. She was booked into jail Tuesday, where she remains on $350,000 bond.
“She is an extreme danger to the public and law enforcement officers,” Melton said.
Tuesday’s chase, which at times exceeded 90 mph, took officers west of Lawrence on U.S. Highway 40 and then headed into rural areas west of Lecompton.
Douglas County Pro Tem Judge Jim George presided over Wednesday’s court appearance, which about a dozen law enforcement officers attended.
Schnegelsiepen will return to court at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. George appointed Lawrence attorney John Johnson to represent her.