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Saturday, 17 March 2012

Crime spree ends with gunfire after high-speed chase


A police officer who opened fire early Tuesday on a man who first shot at him with a BB gun believed the suspect’s gun was a pistol, Rapid City Police Chief Steve Allender said. A wild police chase ended about 4 a.m. Tuesday, soon after a police officer fired four shots with his rifle from his patrol car at a minivan full of suspects, including one who fired at officers from a passenger window with the BB gun, Allender said. Nobody was hit, and no serious injuries occurred. “It looked like a pistol. It made a noise that was audible to the officers,” Allender said. “They remarked on the radio that they believed this was a .22-caliber pistol or small pistol.” Police arrested Cassidy Grosz, 22, Matt Wright, 21, Hebrew Audiss, 21, Schauvon “Joseph” Tobacco, 19, and Adam Poor Bear, 18, all of Rapid City. Formal charges are expected to be filed today, when the suspects are due in court. Wright was the shooter, Allender said. “The belief in the officers’ minds at that moment was that they were being fired upon by the suspects,” Allender said. “The belief was so strong that one of the officers decided to fire back.” It is the third time in seven months that a suspect has shot at Rapid City police. James L. Baker, 41, is charged with shooting at three officers in early January. Daniel Tiger, 22, shot three officers in August, killing two of them. Police returned fire and killed Tiger in that incident. “Certainly, those three incidents get our attention, and they keep our focus quite a bit. I don’t know if we are seeing a trend or a few bizarre incidents. I don’t know,” Allender said. According to a police report, at about 1 a.m. police responded to a beer theft at the Corner Pantry, 2130 N. La Crosse St. Store manager Georgeann Estman, who was not working at the time, said the suspects stole four 24-packs of Budweiser. The beer never made it into the car, she said, because the handles broke. “It ended up in the parking lot,” Estman said. About an hour later, two men reportedly showed a gun and demanded cigarettes from a clerk at the Corner Pantry, 302 E. North St. The store manager declined comment about that incident. At 3:10 a.m. police responded to a residential burglary on Pevans Parkway on the city’s south side. Police spotted the vehicle about 15 minutes later on Catron Boulevard. Grosz, the driver of the 1998 Chrysler Town & Country minivan, refused to pull over for police, according to the report. A high-speed pursuit ensued, reaching speeds of 60 mph on residential streets until the minivan hit spikes placed by police at Fifth and Omaha streets. As the vehicle turned east on College Avenue, police said Wright fired at police. An officer returned four rounds with his patrol rifle. Police later identified the suspect’s gun as a CO2 powered BB gun. Allender said he did not know how far the officers were from the alleged shooter. The minivan entered an alley between College and Custer streets about 3:45 a.m. Four suspects fled the vehicle on foot. One remained in the vehicle. Within 10 minutes, all suspects had been apprehended. Police spokeswoman Tarah Heupel said the department could not release BB gun photos or the model due to an ongoing investigation. Allender said he did not yet have information on the suspects’ possible criminal histories. “The fact that a weapon was drawn that was easily perceived as a firearm of some caliber is an extremely serious event here in our community,” Pennington County State’s Attorney Glenn Brenner said. “We are going to make sure we formulate charges that are able to hold these people accountable for their actions.”



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