GRANTS PASS, Ore. — A seemingly innocuous call regarding a hit-and-run crash on Thursday led officers to track down a wanted fugitive from California, according to the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety (GPDPS).
The initial call came in around 2 p.m. from a motorist reporting that they had just been hit from behind by the driver of a purple Chevrolet Lumina on the Grants Pass Parkway near NE F Street. The caller said that the Lumina driver had then fled the scene.
The caller reported that the suspect vehicle was last seen on the Parkway, headed towards SE M Street. Almost simultaneously, officers near the scene said they witnessed the vehicle run a red light at the same intersection.
When police tried to stop the vehicle, GPDPS said, the driver refused to stop — instead "driving recklessly" through the Parkdale and Fruitdale Drive areas.
"Grants Pass Police, along with Deputies from the Josephine County Sheriff's Office began searching the Fruitdale area, ultimately locating the suspect vehicle in the area of Mt. Baldy Rd. The suspect was able to elude officers, continuing outbound on Rogue River Hwy," GPDPS said.
The suspect, later identified as 28-year-old Christopher Sovereign of Eureka California, eventually abandoned his vehicle at a mobile home park in the 3300-block of Rogue River Highway. However, residents of the park soon called police to report the "suspicious male running out the back of the park, into a wooded area."
With Sovereign headed into the woods, GPDPS said that Sgt. Jeff Gaunt and K-9 Brock were brought in the spearhead the search.
"K-9 Brock tracked Sovereign to an area where Sovereign had hidden himself in holes in the ground created by blown down trees. K-9 Brock apprehended Sovereign, who was in possession of a handgun and additional ammunition," GPDPS said.
Sovereign was brought to Three Rivers Community Hospital for "apprehension wounds," GPDPS said, then later released and taken to the Josephine County Jail. Along with warrants out of California, Sovereign was lodged on new charges, including failing to leave name at the scene of a crash (felony), felony attempt to elude police, felon in possession of a firearm, and reckless driving.
"The Grants Pass Department of Public Safety would like to thank alert citizens for updating police on suspicious activity, which assisted in the apprehension," the agency said.