After a car chase in Lawrence, deputies arrested the driver and found drugs, an assault rifle and more than 1,300 rounds of ammunition in his car, law enforcement authorities said.
The driver, 26-year-old Vince E. Wyatt of Kansas City, Kan., was jailed on suspicion of aggravated assault, eluding law enforcement, distribution of narcotics and possession of a firearm by a felon, Sgt. Kristen Channel of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said in an email to the Journal-World.
According to Channel:
The incident began about 1 a.m. Wednesday, when a sheriff’s deputy stopped the car for a traffic violation near 26th and Iowa streets.
The deputy spotted an AR-15 rifle in the front of the vehicle near the driver, who was the only person in the car. The deputy called for backup but when additional units arrived, the driver took off.
During an approximately 5-minute pursuit, the suspect drove through several parking lots, hitting a parked vehicle and nearly striking a pedestrian. A deputy performed a tactical vehicle intervention — which Channel described as using “controlled vehicle contact” to disrupt the suspect’s path of travel, often called a PIT maneuver — and successfully stopped the car near 31st Street and Ousdahl Road.
Wyatt was taken into custody, and a search of the car revealed not only the AR-15 the deputy spotted earlier, but also more than 1,300 rounds of ammunition plus methamphetamine and marijuana, Channel said.
No one was hurt in the incident, she said.
An AR-15 rifle is a military-style semi-automatic weapon.
Wyatt made his first appearance in Douglas County District Court Wednesday, via video from the jail. Judge James George set his bond at $25,000 and appointed attorney Charles Whitman to represent him.
Wyatt is charged with one count of aggravated assault for allegedly placing someone in threat of harm with his vehicle; one count of fleeing law enforcement; and one count of possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine, all felonies, according to charges read in court. He also was charged with six misdemeanor and traffic infractions.
He was not charged on Wednesday with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
That is subject to a full review of his criminal history, Cheryl Wright Kunard, assistant to DA Charles Branson, said in an email. She said not all felony convictions count for the crime of felon in possession of a firearm, and that factors may include how long ago the prior crimes were committed or whether they involved guns.
Wyatt currently is on parole, according to Kansas Department of Corrections records. His previous convictions include multiple felony burglaries in Leavenworth County, according to KDOC.
A search of his name reveals no prior criminal cases in Douglas County.
Topeka television station KSNT reported that one of its producers happened to be in the area at the time the chase ended, and captured the arrest on video.
The video shared by KSNT shows the car’s driver following law enforcement officers’ commands to get out with his hands up and get on the ground, where he is handcuffed. The video shows another officer removing a long gun from the passenger side of the car.