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Madras fugitive flees deputy, prompting pursuit, hours-long manhunt, arrest

Jefferson County Sheriff Marc Heckathorn pre-deployed spike strips on east side of Grizzly Road in case fleeing fugitive made it that far
Jefferson County Sheriff's Office
Jefferson County Sheriff Marc Heckathorn pre-deployed spike strips on east side of Grizzly Road in case fleeing fugitive made it that far

Cattle company worker followed pickup stolen from employee parking lot

MADRAS, Ore. (KTVZ) – A suspicious man who turned out to be a fugitive with a felony arrest warrant sped away from a Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy late Thursday morning, prompting a pursuit, hours-long air and ground manhunt by several agencies and his eventual arrest in a pickup stolen from a nearby business, Sheriff Marc Heckathorn said.

A deputy had gone around 11 a.m. to contact a suspicious person by a pickup behind the city of Madras Public Works Department when he got in and sped away, blowing through stop signs and leading to an attempted traffic stop and pursuit, Heckathorn said.

The driver left the city and headed south on Grizzly Road. He eventually disabled the truck and ran away about eight miles to the southwest, on the Crooked River National Grassland southeast of Madras, the sheriff said.

Deputies were assisted by Madras and Oregon State Police and Jefferson County EMS in setting up a perimeter in an attempt to contain the man while using a civil Search and Rescue plane to try to find the driver, Heckathorn said.

A Redmond Police K-9 team arrived about 1 p.m. and the area was searched, but the man wasn’t found and units began to leave around 2:30 p.m.

The last two units were leaving around 3 p.m. when the man was spotted and again ran, Heckathorn said.

A short time later, employees at the Norton Cattle Company called 911, having been advised to keep an eye out for the suspect, having seen a suspicious person on their property. They reported the man walked to an employee parking lot, found a burgundy Ford pickup with the keys in the ignition and tried driving off the property without being seen, the sheriff said.

An employee of the business, coordinating with law enforcement, followed the stolen truck to the entryway to a home on Grizzly Road, where law enforcement made a high-risk (guns-drawn) traffic stop and took the 27-year-old Madras man into custody without further incident or injury.

Heckathorn said the man had a felony arrest warrant and was driving with a suspended license. He was lodged in the county jail on charges of attempt to elude, reckless driving, reckless driving, reckless endangerment, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and criminal mischief.

The sheriff thanked all those who helped in the search and arrest, with a “special thanks to the Redmond K-9 officer and to staff of Norton Cattle Company for heeding our warning about the suspect being in the area and eventually locating the individual and helping us safely take the suspect into custody.”

Court records show the man had pleaded no contest last fall to strangulation (constituting domestic violence) last fall, with other charges dismissed. He received a 30-day jail sentence and three years probation.

A Jefferson County Parole and Probation officer said in a court affidavit the man had been ordered to undergo substance abuse treatment but failed to follow through on any evaluations, reporting on several occasions he had COVID-19 but not providing any documentation. A judge issued a no-bail arrest warrant last month.

Article Topic Follows: Jefferson County

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Barney Lerten

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