County seeks felony charges against driver of vintage car in high-speed pursuit

Mesquite Police Department vehicle, Mesquite, Nev., Aug. 9, 2016 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
 ST. GEORGE — A St. George man who led police agencies in a high-speed chase through three states faces a felony trifecta as Washington County anticipates joining Arizona and Nevada in charging him with felonies in connection with the April 25 incident.
An Arizona Highway Patrol officer participates in the search for the suspect in a high speed chase Wednesday, Mesquite, Nev., April 25, 2018 | Photo courtesy of David West, St. George News

Franklin E. Sanchez, 29, was arrested in Mesquite after he allegedly stole a car in St. George and eluded officers in Utah and Arizona before being captured in Mesquite when police set up a containment area, used a drone to locate him and apprehended him after a foot chase.

Angie Reddish-Day with the Washington County Attorney’s Office said Thursday her office is processing a warrant for Sanchez’s arrest, and added that the county is also working on two new charges that she “anticipates will be filed in this case once the warrant is signed,” she said.

The expected charges include one second-degree felony count of theft of property, an operable motor vehicle, along with one count of failure to stop at an officer’s signaling, a third-degree felony.

“Our office anticipates filing the two new charges which he will appear on here once Mesquite is finished with him,” Reddish-Day said, “and it looks like Sanchez will have felony charges in three different jurisdictions.”

Read more: Man arrested after high-speed pursuit in classic car through 3 states

Nevada charges include two felony counts, one for possession of a stolen vehicle and the second for evading a police officer, Mesquite Police Department officer Quinn Averett confirmed Thursday. Sanchez is also charged with misdemeanors for obstructing a public officer and failure to stop at a controlled intersection.

Heavy police presence is seen near the corner of Yucca and First North in Mesquite where Franklin Sanchez abandoned a stolen vehicle Wednesday morning, Mesquite, Nev., April 25, 2018 | Photo courtesy of David West, St. George News

In Arizona, he faces a fifth-degree felony charge of unlawful flight from pursuing law enforcement vehicle, Sgt. John Bottoms, Arizona Department of Public Safety, told St. George News April 27.

The incident began when Sanchez allegedly stole a 1971 Mercury Cougar from the parking lot of a St. George automobile repair shop and fled in the car after being spotted by police.

After he was able to evade police in St. George, an officer observed him enter Interstate 15 heading south, where multiple agencies pursued him after an alert was sent out to all to be on the lookout for the car.

Two hours later, Sanchez was arrested after abandoning the vehicle in Mesquite and fleeing on foot.

Police used a recently acquired drone that flew over the containment area, giving officers a tactical advantage while minimizing search time.

“The drone saved many man hours that would have otherwise required multiple officers to systematically clear large areas,” Averett said.

Franklin Sanchez, 29, of St. George, faces charges in connection with allegedly stealing a car in Utah and fleeing police before being arrested in Mesquite, Nev., April 25, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Mesquite Police Department, St. George News

Mesquite Police Chief Troy Tanner added that aerial technology can serve multiple functions, including search and rescue operations, searches for fleeing suspects and “many other tactical situations which make our officers’ dangerous jobs much safer.”

“It has always been my goal to bring the best and most updated equipment to this department in an effort to make Mesquite a safer place for everyone who lives here as well as for those who come here to recreate,” Tanner said.

During the search for Sanchez, Mesquite schools were placed on a “soft lock down” as a safety precaution.

“The police department’s first priority is the safety of the public, especially the schools,” Averett said.

The department also used a new emergency notification system that augments Facebook and Twitter updates, sending immediate updates to individuals who signed up for the Nixle emergency notification system by texting 89027 to phone number 888777.

The added manpower provided by outside agencies supported the safe search and arrest of Sanchez, particularly in light of the remoteness of the area between Mesquite and any other city, where resources are limited, Tanner added.

“I want to thank the outside agencies who assisted us today,” he said.

This report is based on statements from police or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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