A man led Roswell Police on a chase through the city Wednesday after an officer spotted him driving a vehicle reported stolen earlier in the day.
John Rice, 29, faces charges of unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, aggravated fleeing of a law enforcement officer and resisting, evading or obstructing an officer, according to a criminal complaint.
The pursuit of Rice and his wife Loretta Rice, who was also in the pickup, began shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday at a carwash at the 1800 block of South Main Street, according to an affidavit.
The officer learned by radio that a white Ford F-150 pickup truck reported stolen earlier in the day was at the car wash, according to the affidavit.
Upon arrival, the officer saw the pickup leaving one of the south bays of the car wash. As the vehicle attempted to leave, a white male could be seen driving it. The officer then advised another officer driving a police unit to park to stop at an entrance to the carwash.
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Rice then drove the pickup over a curb to exit the parking lot and turned south on South Main Street just as one officer turned on his emergency lights and sirens to stop thepickupp, the affidavit states.
The pickup then traveled east on Church Street and maintained a speed of 45 miles per hour and then nearly struck a vehicle after failing to come to a stop or yield at a stop sign at the intersection of East Church Street and South Grande Avenue.
The pursuit then continued east on Church Street before the pickup turned south on South East Main Street and headed east on Marker Road.
Officers disengaged from the pursuit due to the suspect’s driving behavior by shutting off their emergency lights and sirens and began following the vehicle at a safe distance. The truck then turned north onto Atkinson Street. It was then spotted turning west on McGaffey Street by an officer and then north on Jefferson Street before it turned west into a field, according to the affidavit.
The pickup was then discovered unoccupied in a field west of Xcel Energy on the west side of the railroad tracks off Bland Street.
Officers were advised to establish a perimeter west of the location of the pickup in an attempt to locate the man and woman that had been in the vehicle, the affidavit stated.
Nearby backyards were cleared by officers within the searched area. A fence on the 900 block of Matthews Street was found by officers to be tampered with, with a fresh footprint pressed into the dirt and a black knife nearby. The male and female were soon found sitting in a shed and were taken to the Roswell Police Department.
When later questioned by police, Loretta Rice said she had no idea the truck was stolen.
She said that she had never seen the pickup before and didn’t question John Rice about it when he arrived at her house earlier in the day.
The affidavit states that Loretta Rice ran and hid with John Rice when the police began pursuing them because she did not want John Rice to be alone.
John Rice was still being held at the Chaves County Detention Center as of Wednesday morning, according to the center’s Jail Population Summary Report.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.