Man on ‘spiritual journey’ accused of stealing deputy’s cruiser, credit card

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GAINSVILLE, FL– Once in a while, we report on stories that prompt the response “what in the world?!”

On Thursday, November 5th, a man, claiming to be on a “spiritual journey”, hopped in a police car he came across, and took off. Luckily, police officers put an end to his journey rather quickly. 

According to the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, 20-year-old Duncan Alexander Smith came into the Gainesville Regional Airport at around 8:30 p.m. Thursday. Video surveillance shows Smith leaving the airport parking lot in the deputy’s marked vehicle around 8:34 p.m.

About two hours later, the deputy, whos car was stolen, received a report that his credit card, which was left in his patrol vehicle, was being used in Columbia county. 

The Gainesville Sun reported that Sheriff’s electronic surveillance showed the car heading southbound on I-75 in Alachua County. What makes the situation, and ultimately the charges worse, is the fact that there was a police rifle readily accessible in the passenger side of the vehicle. 

Shortly after, police were able to catch up to Smith, and take him into custody without incident.  

According to the arrest report, Smith said he was on a spiritual journey and needed to find a way home when he came across the patrol car on the airport’s property. The report lists his address in St. Petersburg.

As per the report, Smith claims that he used the credit card to buy gas for the patrol car. 

Smith was charged with burglary of an authorized emergency vehicle, grand theft of a firearm and grand theft of a vehicle. Bail has been set at $130,000.

This is not the only time that a police vehicle has been stolen in the last two weeks. 

On October 25th, a suspect stole a marked police car in New Jersey, and lead police on a chase to Brooklyn, NY.

Police report that just before 12:30 a.m., the 32-year-old car thief stole a marked Bayonne Police Department vehicle, and headed towards Staten Island. 

That’s when Port Authority police spotted the stolen vehicle on the Goethals Bridge and started to pursue the driver.

Once the driver reached the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, NYPD officers joined in the pursuit.

Police say the chase only lasted about a half an hour, and ended around 1 a.m., when the suspect crashed into an unoccupied parked car along 5th Avenue and 23rd Street in Brooklyn, NBC New York reported.

The driver was taken into custody and is set to face charges.

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In July, Law Enforcement Today brought you a story of a man driving a stolen vehicle that crashed into a woman driving another stolen car.

NEWBERG, OR – Who knew irony would be disguised as a Toyota Land Cruiser or a Buick Regal? But when the drivers of two stolen cars collided during a police chase, two car theft cases were solved simultaneously. 

Randy Lee Cooper, from Portland, was running from police in a stolen Land Cruiser. The police had just received the report of the stolen vehicle when they spotted Cooper driving it.

During the pursuit, the Land Cruiser hit the Regal, being driven by 25-year-old Kristin Nicole Begue of Newberg. 

Man on 'spiritual journey' accused of stealing deputy's cruiser, credit card
Courtesy of the Newberg-Dundee Police Department

As officers investigating the scene soon discovered, both vehicles were stolen, with the Regal having been boosted three weeks prior.  

Cooper was arrested on suspicion of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, attempting to elude police, assault, reckless driving and other charges, police say. Begue was arrested on suspicion of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and driving under the influence of intoxicants.

The Newberg-Dundee Police Department issued the following press release:

“Here’s a new one for you to start the week. 
 
On the morning of July 5, 2020, Newberg-Dundee Police officers responded to a report of a suspect that had just stolen a victim’s Toyota Land Cruiser.
 
Officers located the stolen vehicle moments later as it drove through town. The suspect attempted to elude police through downtown Newberg and crashed the Land Cruiser into an occupied Buick Regal near E. Franklin & College St. Officers took the suspect into custody from the Land Cruiser, but then learned the Buick Regal was also stolen from a completely unrelated crime that had been reported about three weeks prior.
 
The driver of the stolen Buick was found to be under the influence of intoxicants and arrested as well.
 
The suspect driving the stolen Land Cruiser, Randy Lee Cooper (27 years old), of Portland, was arrested for Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Attempting to Elude Police, Assault-3, Reckless Driving and other related crimes.
 
The suspect driving the stolen Buick, Kristin Nicole Begue (25 years), of Newberg, was arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants and Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle.”
 

Fortunately, this incident ended without any major injuries or violence.

We cannot always say that.

Let’s go back to the last week in June.

Thursday morning, an officer responded to a collision around 7 am at the intersection of Legacy Drive and International Parkway in Plano.

As he approached one of the involved vehicles, the driver got out of the car, ran over to the other vehicle, and stabbed the driver multiple times. 

The officer moved towards her, at which point the female suspect turned and stabbed the officer once in the left arm.

The woman then ran around towards the passenger side of the vehicle, presumably to get into the car. 

The officer fired multiple times to stop the attack.

Police confirmed what happened with body camera footage and many witnesses.  The suspect had been driving a stolen car.

Police are looking into whether or not road rage was a factor.

Plano Police Department Spokesman David Tilley said:

“Did these individuals know each other or was this just a, somebody got upset because of traffic crash and then just kind of twisted off a little bit? We really don’t know yet.”

The shooting is being investigated by the police department, along with the Collin County District Attorney’s Office

The two stabbing victims- the driver and the officer- were taken to the hospital. The suspect was also taken to the hospital, but she did not survive.  The officer and the other driver were hospitalized with wounds but they are both expected to recover fully.

The suspect has not been identified and the names of those involved have not been released.

The officer has been with the department for more than 30 years and he has been placed on paid administrative leave, per department protocol, while a shooting investigation is being conducted.

Meanwhile, in Boston, officers are getting ambushed by mobs while attempting to arrest felons.

On Wednesday evening, officers from the Boston Police Department responded to the area of Humboldt Avenue and Crawford Street in Roxbury before 6PM for a report of a man walking with a firearm in a fanny pack. 

Upon arrival, the met a man matching the description who was carrying a fanny pack. 

Officers made contact and attempted to take hold of his hands, therefore preventing him from retrieving a firearm and avoiding a deadly force situation.

But the suspect, 44-year-old Jermaine Thomas had different plans. 

Mr. Thomas, according to police, grabbed back at the officers and a physical confrontation ensued.  As the confrontation continued, bystanders in the crowd began to close in the officers who were now physically fighting a man, trying to prevent him from arming himself with a gun and shooting them or the bystanders. 

As the crowd became hostile toward the police, the ones who were trying to prevent a shooting, fire hydrants were opened, causing a heavy flow of water to rush toward them. 

Regardless of the level of resistance they faced, the officers were able to remain calm and take Mr. Thomas into custody. 

As they were placing him into a police vehicle, persons from the crowd began to dump water on the officers from buckets. 

Thankfully, the officers were able to subdue Mr. Thomas, who had a loaded firearm in the fanny pack, take him into custody, and leave the scene without anyone getting hurt.

Boston Police Commissioner William Gross stated:

“I’m alarmed by the level of hostility my officers had to face while arresting a felon armed with an illegal firearm.

They were attacked by members of the very same community they were attempting to protect by affecting this arrest.  Public safety is a shared responsibility, we need to continue to work together, not in opposition towards one another, to achieve that goal.” 

Thankfully, this incident ended the way it should, the suspect in jail and the officers returning to the streets to continue patrolling. 

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