Lawrence man faces felony charges, including attempted arson, after police chase

photo by: Mackenzie Clark

The Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, which houses Douglas County District Court and a number of other criminal justice services at 111 E. 11th St., is pictured April 8, 2020.

A Lawrence man who reportedly led police on a chase through town on Wednesday is facing two felony charges in Douglas County District Court.

Brandon T. Rothwell, 29, made his first appearance in court Thursday, where he was charged with attempted aggravated arson and fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, which are both felonies, according to a charging document provided to the Journal-World on Friday. Rothwell was also charged with criminal restraint, which is a misdemeanor, according to the document.

The attempted aggravated arson charge stems from an accusation in the charging document that Rothwell turned on a gas stove and lit a picture on fire.

The court set a $30,000 cash or surety bond. As of 9:30 a.m. Friday, Rothwell was still in the Douglas County Jail.

Rothwell was arrested Wednesday afternoon after allegedly leading local law enforcement in a car chase through central and southern Lawrence.

Patrick Compton, a spokesman for the Lawrence Police Department, said the chase began around 2 p.m. Wednesday after LPD officers responded to a call for a domestic disturbance in the 1400 block of East 15th Street. When officers arrived, two men were leaving the scene in a vehicle. Officers tried to pull the vehicle over, but the driver refused to stop, leading to the pursuit, Compton said. Deputies for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office then joined the pursuit to assist.

According to emergency radio traffic, the pursuit reached high speeds, traveling through central Lawrence before heading south of town. Compton said the pursuit reached speeds of at least 70 mph within Lawrence city limits.

During the pursuit, a sheriff’s deputy used a “tactical vehicle intervention” to stop the vehicle, which crashed into a ditch in the 1400 block of North 1300 Road, also known as 31st Street, near Kansas Highway 10, Deputy Charlie Cooper said in an email to the Journal-World. After the crash, the two men fled on foot but were apprehended.

The passenger in the car, Corey Dwyer, a 30-year-old Lawrence man, was arrested around 3 p.m. Thursday in the 3100 block of Michigan Street on suspicion of interference with law enforcement, according to jail records. However, the District Attorney’s Office did not file charges against Dwyer, according to the records.

Rothwell’s next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office refused to provide the Journal-World with Rothwell’s booking photo.

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