Wild Chase For Police

Police briefly closed Highway 87 in Rye after suspects fleeing law enforcement drove the wrong way up the Beeline, crashed into another car, abandoned their vehicle and fled into the desert near the Barnhardt Trailhead.

Police briefly closed Highway 87 in Rye after suspects fleeing law enforcement drove the wrong way up the Beeline, crashed into another car, abandoned their vehicle and fled into the desert near the Barnhardt Trailhead. Photo by Alexis Bechman. |

Advertisement

After a wild chase, Rim Country police and deputies Wednesday arrested two men in Rye who had reportedly eluded police in both the Valley and Tucson.

Their wild flight from the law included a highway chase, an attempt to drive the wrong way on the Beeline, a crash and then a foot chase and search into the desert near the Barnhardt Trail.

The chase snarled traffic on the highway and prompted a mad rush of Payson Police, Gila County Sheriff’s, Forest Service and Tonto Apache Police cars with sirens wailing through the middle of Payson en route to the scene.

Kenneth Cummins, 23, and Alexander Montierth, 19, were driving up to Payson to visit a friend just before 3 p.m. when a Department of Public Safety officer spotted them speeding. However, when he tried to pull them over Cummins, crossed over the median, inadvertently went off the west side of the roadway, turned around and nearly struck the DPS officer. Cummins then headed north up the southbound lanes, said Sgt. Erik Axlund with DPS.

An approaching southbound vehicle noticed the commotion and pulled off to the side, but Cummins clipped the vehicle’s front end. This disabled the men’s vehicle and both took off on foot up the dirt road leading to the Barnhardt trailhead.

Police noticed what appeared to be weapons in the men’s vehicle and closed down southbound traffic.

Axlund meanwhile was in Pine, training with multiple emergency agencies at the elementary school. When he got the tone out, he asked the other officers for help.

“We depend on them,” Axlund said.

Axlund learned the Forest Service also had officers training at the Jim Jones Shooting Range and asked them to respond too.

The Gila County Sheriff’s Office tracked the men through the forest and Lt. Tim Scott spotted them with binoculars near a water tank and brush.

This information was radioed to a DPS Ranger helicopter crew who then directed a SWAT team to the men’s location.

At 5:30 p.m., the men were cuffed. Axlund interviewed both men and learned from Cummins that he had a parole violation.

This wasn’t the first time officers had tried to pull him over, Axlund said.

In the prior two days, officers in the Valley and Tucson had reportedly tried to pull him over for traffic violations. Both times, he refused to stop.

Tucson Police initially chased him, but stopped when it became too dangerous. Valley police did not pursue out of safety concerns.

Montierth meanwhile was “just along for the ride,” Axlund said.

Police later determined there were no firearms in the vehicle, just pellet guns.

Police arrested Cummins on charges of unlawful flight, aggravated DUI, aggravated assault, criminal damage and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Montierth was booked on possession of drug paraphernalia, failure to comply with a police officer and possession of marijuana.

In all, the GCSO, Forest Service, Payson Police, ADOT and Tonto Apache Tribal Police assisted DPS.

“We couldn’t have done it without them,” Axlund said.

No one was injured.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.