Cops and Courts, Latest News

Suspected porch pirate leads deputy on high-speed pursuit

A Morgantown man possibly involved in several area package thefts was taken into custody after allegedly fleeing from a Monongalia County Sheriff’s deputy at high speeds and causing some damage along the way.

Shortly before 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, Deputy John Cunningham reported he was watching a vehicle parked at a business on Maple Drive, which was a suspect vehicle in many package thefts in the area.

According to the criminal complaint, Cunningham saw a man, later identified as John P. Richie, 37, of Morgantown, get into the vehicle, a white Chevy Trailblazer, and drive toward the intersection of Maple Drive and J.D. Anderson Drive, where the deputy said he failed to stop at a stop sign.

When the deputy activated his emergency lights and sirens, in an attempt to stop the vehicle on Chestnut Ridge Road, Richie began fleeing at a high rate of speed.

During the pursuit Richie “struck multiple guardrails, mailboxes, and drove in excess of 80 mph on country roads,” Cunningham wrote in the complaint.  

The deputy also reported the Trailblazer “often drove in the opposite lane with no regards to other drivers on the roadway.”

After following the vehicle to Pounds Hollow Road, Cunningham wrote, he had to back off the vehicle due to icy conditions, which ultimately ended the pursuit.

Cunningham continued patrolling the area near Tyrone-Avery Road and eventually saw a man, later identified as Richie, matching the description of the driver he had been chasing.

Richie was detained and after a few questions admitted to being the driver of the vehicle.

Other than the guardrails and mailboxes struck during the pursuit, no other property damage was reported.

Richie pleaded not guilty to fleeing from law enforcement with reckless indifference at an arraignment hearing in Monongalia County Magistrate Court Wednesday morning, and is being held on $100,000 bond.

Sheriff Perry Palmer told The Dominion Post that Richie is now a suspect in a number of package thefts in the Monongalia County area.  Palmer was unable to specify the exact areas of town where they believe the thefts occurred as they are still under investigation. Charges against Richie are pending.

TWEET @DominionPostWV