Suspect in hourlong high-speed chase identified

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by azfamily.com

azfamily.com

Posted on November 13, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 18 at 10:40 AM

Map: 107th Avenue and Happy Valley Road

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AVONDALE, Ariz. -- The suspect who led police on a high-speed chase through the West Valley for a little more than an hour Wednesday morning has been taken into custody.

He is 19-year-old Austin Straps, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

It's not clear why the driver ran, but aerial video from the Fort McDowell Casino News Chopper showed the BMW flying along city streets and winding through several neighborhoods.

There were several near misses and at times the driver was on the wrong side of the street.

Clearly not wanting to be caught, the driver ignored red lights, cut corners while speeding through turns and recklessly passed several other vehicles. It looked like the BMW clipped at least one vehicle as the driver continued his desperate flight.

Not wanting to provoke the suspect and exacerbate an already dangerous situation, marked police cars backed off, leaving it to the chopper to follow the fleeing car from the air.

At one point, the driver turned into the parking lot of a shopping center at  Bell Road and US 60 (Grand Avenue). He whipped through the lot before making his way back out to Bell Road.

Several minutes later, the driver went into the parking lot of a large apartment or townhouse complex near Happy Valley Parkway and Loop 303. He twisted through the lot before pulling back out in the surrounding neighborhood.

After about an hour of erratic driving though the West Valley, the driver -- a man in jeans, a blue T-shirt and a baseball cap -- bailed out of the BMW near 107th Avenue and Happy Valley Parkway and ran into a nearby home. It looked like he might have been limping.

Officers converged on the home and took the suspect into custody with no further incident.

Aerial video showed officers escorting the cuffed man to a waiting squad car.

This all started shortly before 10 a.m., but it's not clear what set it in motion.

A viewer who wanted to remain anonymous told 3TV that the car was stolen from a garage in North Phoenix.

Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson confirmed that the vehicle has been stolen, but no other details were immediately available. Thompson said the driver was alone in the car.

Strap was arrested Nov. 4 for allegedly stealing a vehicle. He was released from prison just five months ago after serving time for a May 2012 burglary.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct the location of the shopping center through which the suspect drove.

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