Man steals police SUV, leads car chase following arrest; still at large

St. Charles Parish police have identified a man they suspect stole an officer’s patrol SUV on Monday before leading officers on a car chase across multiple parishes, and have asked for the public’s assistance in tracking him down.

Michael John, 31, is wanted by police after detectives identified him from camera footage/photographs taken of a man apparently driving the patrol vehicle following the Feb. 3 incident.  John is wanted for one count of theft of a motor vehicle, one count of aggravated flight from an officer and one count of aggravated escape.

The incident occurred the suspect had been handcuffed and arrested for suspected drug use earlier that morning.

The police vehicle was recovered at approximately 8 a.m.  Monday, but the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office asked the public to be on the lookout for a white male suspect – who could be still handcuffed –  believed to be in his late 20s or early 30s, approximately 140 pounds and 5’8, with dark colored, shaggy brown hair above his ears and a thin mustache. A day later, police identified him as John,  according to St. Charles Sheriff’s Office spokesman Cpl. James Grimaldi.

Michael John

Grimaldi said deputies responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle parked behind a Pilot Gas Station on Airline Hwy. in St. Rose, occupied by a driver thought to potentially be using heroin. The report was called in at approximately 5 a.m.

He said when officers arrived, the suspect tried driving away in his vehicle, but crashed into a ditch. Officers handcuffed the man and placed him in the backseat of a deputy’s patrol SUV.

But moments later, as the deputy investigated the scene of the crash, he saw his patrol vehicle being driven away from the scene. That led to a pursuit down Airline Hwy. in the direction of New Orleans. Grimaldi said one deputy in pursuit was involved in a crash near David Drive in Jefferson Parish. That incident is being investigated by Louisiana State Police. The officer involved sustained no injuries, Grimaldi said. Two other people were taken to East Jefferson Hospital as result of the crash with minor injuries, according to state police.

Michael John

Officers lost sight of the SUV near Xavier University in New Orleans.

Police recovered the stolen vehicle after it was found abandoned on the 700 block of Toledano St. in New Orleans.

The vehicle the suspect drove initially during the incident was also reported stolen out of New Orleans.

Grimaldi said the suspect was unidentified and remains at large as of Monday afternoon. He added no police weapons or ballistic gear was inside of the SUV at the time it was taken.

The St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office asks anyone who may have further information on the incident to contact Detective Kevin Tennison of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office at (985)783-1135 or (985)783-6807.




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