Police Say Soldier Stole Armored Vehicle And Led Them On 2-Hour Chase
Police say a soldier stole an armored vehicle from a military installation outside Richmond, Va., Tuesday night, leading them on a two-hour chase that ended downtown with his arrest.
Police say the suspect, identified as Joshua Philip Yabut, 29, of Richmond, Va., took the vehicle from Fort Pickett in Blackstone, Va., just before 8 p.m. ET.
His unit was conducting routine training there at the time, according to Cotton Puryear a National Guard spokesman.
Yabut then headed north on Interstate 95 before entering Richmond, according to police. Around 9:40 p.m. Yabut stopped and surrendered to Virginia State Police about a block from the state capitol building.
As far as chases go, it wasn't exactly high-speed: The vehicle tops out at about 40 m.p.h. The M577 armored personnel carrier, the property of the Virginia National Guard, was not equipped with weaponry.
Still, the incident caused a stir among residents and lit up social media. Videos posted by witnesses showed a long line of police sirens blaring in pursuit of the tank-like vehicle — although Hill was careful to emphasize the vehicle is not an actual tank.
It was equipped with treads and is typically used for transporting troops.
"Driving down Broad Street in Richmond. At least 30 police vehicles pursuing/escorting a tank," Twitter user Jacob Myers posted alongside a video of the chase. "I don't believe what I just typed.
"This is INSANE!," Parker Slaybaugh posted with a video he said he recorded by his Richmond apartment.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports police rushed to clear Broad Street — a busy shopping hub — before the vehicle rolled through. A state police helicopter hovered overhead, a spotlight tracking its moves.
No related crashes or injuries were reported.
Yabut was charged with driving under the influence of drugs, one felony count of eluding police and one felony count of unauthorized use of a vehicle, Sgt. Keeli Hill with the Virginia State Police told NPR in a statement.
Yabut, an active duty National Guardsman, is a 1st lieutenant assigned as the commander of Petersburg, Va.-based Headquarters Company, 276th Engineer Battalion.
Yabut had his personal weapon on him at the time, although it contained no ammunition, Puryear said.
"We are extremely grateful that there were no injuries as a result of this incident," Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the adjutant general of Virginia, said in a statement. "We have initiated our own internal investigation, and we will determine appropriate actions once the investigation is complete."
Yabut has more than 11 years of service and deployed to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009 with the Illinois National Guard, said Puryear.
He is currently being held at the City of Richmond Jail.
The vehicle has been returned to Fort Pickett with no significant damage.
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