Car chase ends with suspect in custody

The public got an eyeful of police activity on Sunday afternoon. The red and blue lights swarmed the ground while the RCMP helicopter circled overhead in pursuit of a suspected stolen vehicle.

"Whoever the pilot was for that helicopter was incredible. It was like a scene from the movies," said Britt Bruneau, one of the witnesses of the high-profile chase.

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According to RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Craig Douglass, the incident had a few chapters, beginning on Highway 97 South just outside of Quesnel.

"Just before 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Quesnel RCMP received a report of a stolen pickup from the parking lot of a retail business in their community," Douglass said. "Quesnel RCMP General Duty officers located the vehicle travelling north towards Prince George on Highway 97. An attempt was made to stop the vehicle, however the driver fled at a high rate of speed. In the interest of public safety, officers did not pursue."

Instead, the situation was relayed ahead to Prince George's detachment and North District RCMP's traffic units. The city's police helicopter was also activated.

The suspect vehicle was located near the Red Rock community, the driver travelling in a northerly direction towards Prince George.

"After the driver again refused to stop for police, the vehicle was tracked into Prince George," Douglass said.

The suspect vehicle entered the city and soon became noticeable to other drivers. "He almost smoked us," said Bruneau. "He was driving like an absolute madman. He did a couple 360s and ended up swerving in behind me so I pulled over."

The helicopter was so close Bruneau could feel the vibration of the chopper's air wash. She estimated about 10 police vehicles were converging on their position, which was the vicinity of Ginter's Field where the road comes to an end. The driver got out and tried to flee on foot, Bruneau said.

It didn't work.

"Multiple General Duty officers intercepted the vehicle near the southwest end of Massey Drive," Douglass confirmed. "The driver and lone occupant was arrested without further incident. Alcohol was a factor. As a precaution, the suspect was transported to hospital to be checked by medical personnel."

The arrest came shortly after 4 p.m. Eric Roger Johnson, 27, of Quesnel remained in custody as of Monday on eight counts including motor vehicle theft, dangerous driving and two counts of assaulting a peace officer with a weapon.

No police or bystanders were injured in the incident, but the suspect's vehicle did collide with a marked RCMP vehicle during the pursuit.

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