Police: Man high on meth steals, crashes car with kids inside

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Stewart Galligan By Catherine Holland Stewart Galligan By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX --A Surprise man is facing a laundry list of charges after allegedly stealing a car with two children inside and running from police.

It started when a traffic stop in Phoenix Wednesday evening took an unusual turn.

According to police, Stewart Galligan, 35, pushed his girlfriend out of the driver's seat so he could take control of the vehicle. He allegedly then hit the gas and took off with his girlfriend's two kids, ages 3 and 5, still in the car. Police said Galligan nearly hit four officers as he fled.

The arresting officer wrote in his probable cause statement that Galligan sped into a neighborhood and then rammed the car through a chain link fence and wooden safety barrier. The car flew into the air, landing on a block and wrought iron fence.

Police said Galligan fled again, this time on foot, "leaving the children to fend for themselves." The kids were not hurt in the crash.

A police helicopter located Galligan in a yard a short time later. He refused to come out of hiding, so officers on the ground sent a K-9 in after him.

Based on their interview with Galligan's girlfriend, police believe Galligan had been smoking meth before the initial traffic stop.

A search of the vehicle turned up a plastic bag containing a "usable amount of methamphetamine" and the glass pipe Galligan allegedly used to smoke it.

During the booking process, officers learned Galligan was already wanted on a felony warrant. No information about the warrant was immediately available.

According to court paperwork, police believe Galligan has "shown his proclivity for attempting [sic] to elude police and his tendency to use violence to do so."

Galligan now faces more than a dozen felony charges, including kidnapping, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, car theft, drug possession and use and child endangerment.

A search of Arizona Department of Corrections records shows an inmate with the same name and birthdate was released from prison in April 2013. Supervision ended in August 2013. That inmate also served nearly a year in 2008-2009.