Fake 911 call sparks I-10 chase, police standoff in Casa Grande

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Police are trying to determine what prompted a man to make a fake 911 call that touched off a wild chase and standoff in southern Arizona Sunday afternoon. By Catherine Holland Police are trying to determine what prompted a man to make a fake 911 call that touched off a wild chase and standoff in southern Arizona Sunday afternoon. By Catherine Holland
Police are trying to determine what prompted a man to make a fake 911 call that touched off a wild chase and standoff in southern Arizona Sunday afternoon. By Catherine Holland Police are trying to determine what prompted a man to make a fake 911 call that touched off a wild chase and standoff in southern Arizona Sunday afternoon. By Catherine Holland
Police are trying to determine what prompted a man to make a fake 911 call that touched off a wild chase and standoff in southern Arizona Sunday afternoon. By Catherine Holland Police are trying to determine what prompted a man to make a fake 911 call that touched off a wild chase and standoff in southern Arizona Sunday afternoon. By Catherine Holland
Police are trying to determine what prompted a man to make a fake 911 call that touched off a wild chase and standoff in southern Arizona Sunday afternoon. By Catherine Holland Police are trying to determine what prompted a man to make a fake 911 call that touched off a wild chase and standoff in southern Arizona Sunday afternoon. By Catherine Holland
Police are trying to determine what prompted a man to make a fake 911 call that touched off a wild chase and standoff in southern Arizona Sunday afternoon. By Catherine Holland Police are trying to determine what prompted a man to make a fake 911 call that touched off a wild chase and standoff in southern Arizona Sunday afternoon. By Catherine Holland

CASA GRANDE -- Police are trying to determine what prompted a man to make a fake 911 call that touched off a wild chase and standoff in southern Arizona Sunday afternoon.

It all came to an end south of Casa Grande when Department of Public Safety officers forced the man to swerve off the road.

The situation backed up traffic on Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson for several hours.

According to investigators, Michael John Cook called 911 at about 1 p.m., claiming he had 70 illegal immigrants in the back of a U-Haul. He said three man armed with high-powered rifles were forcing him to drive them back to Mexico. He also said his family was being held hostage in another location and would be killed if the truck stopped.

Gila River police had spotted the truck and were trying to stop it when DPS got involved.

Cook, 40, reportedly warned police that any officer who approached the truck would be shot. He also said he had been told to run any roadblocks.

DPS closed exit ramps to Casa Grande to keep the truck on the freeway. They also stopped traffic in both directions.

Officers then deployed stop sticks to flatten the truck's tires. Cook kept going, driving around at least one roadblock. DPS officer finally used a Pursuit Immobilization Technique or PIT maneuver to push the truck into the center median. Cook crossed the westbound to the right shoulder where the truck got stuck.

When Cook finally stopped, SWAT officers swarmed the scene only to discover that the U-Haul was empty and everything Cook had said was a lie.

"We don't want to take that chance, or take the chance that one of us or someone innocent is killed," said DPS Officer Robert Bailey. "[It's] certainly bizarre behavior from this person. He'll be dealt with in the criminal-justice system. This is completely unacceptable."

While it's not clear what prompted Cook's actions, investigators said they suspect he suffers from some kind of mental illness.

DPS investigators said Cook had rented the U-Haul in Mesa earlier in the day, and was involved in at least one hit-and-run wreck in Gilbert.

When officers took Cook into custody, they discovered he had more than $3,500 in cash on him.

Cook  was arrested and booked into the Pinal County Jail on several charges, including unlawful flight, aggravated assault on a police officer and endangerment.

DPS was able to re-open I-10 at about 4:30 p.m.