POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- Acting on a tip as to the location of a suspected stolen vehicle, local police officers were led on an alleged high-speed pursuit through Poplar Bluff on Wednesday morning, which ended with the suspects bailing out of the moving car.
"I got a call from a confidential informant, who stated there was a reported stolen rental car parked in the parking lot at 1909 Westmore," directly behind Mike & Zach's BBQ, explained Poplar Bluff Police Detective Jason Morgan, who responded to that location at about 8:15 a.m.
The late model Dodge Charger, he said, was seen in the parking lot and was occupied by two black males.
"When I pulled up, I pulled up behind the vehicle; the vehicle was blocked," Morgan said. "[The driver] chose an alternative route through the yard of the apartment complex and over a sidewalk into the alley way that runs north and south" behind the businesses.
The driver, later identified as Duanne Anthony Winters, allegedly turned north into the alleyway, traveling at what Morgan described as a high rate of speed and continuing to Sunset, where he drove across the China Garden parking lot to Northwood.
At that point, Morgan said, Winters allegedly turned onto North Westwood Boulevard, continuing northbound at a high rate of speed.
Patrol officers, Morgan said, were notified as to his location and were provided a vehicle description and direction of travel.
"We turned onto Three Rivers Boulevard at a high rate of speed," Morgan said. "Three Rivers [College] police officers were notified of the situation."
Winters allegedly continued through the college's parking lot at speeds in excess of 80 mph, said Morgan, who was following, maintaining visual contact and providing direction of travel to patrol officers.
Winters' alleged actions on the campus, according to chief Danny Whiteley, put any pedestrians in extreme danger "due to his stupidity and disregard for any students or faculty or children" who may have been in the area.
After proceeding through the campus, Morgan said, Winters allegedly "came out on Herschel Bess Boulevard still at a high rate of speed."
Patrol officers, he said were "staged" at the intersection of Herschel Bess and Kanell boulevards, where they initiated the pursuit.
Winters then allegedly went eastbound on Kanell to Westwood, where he went north, then "cut through the Pizza Hut parking lot," Morgan said. "He traveled toward Highland [Drive], then turned left back to [Westwood] at the bank."
From there, Morgan said, the pursuit continued northbound on Westwood until Winters allegedly turned east on Sunset Drive, crossing Old Orchard and continuing to 14th, where he turned north.
"[He] then went east on Gray through the cemetery, then across Main Street to Bearden at a high rate of speed," said Morgan, who described the speeds through the cemetery and on Bearden as being in excess of 100 mph.
Morgan said Winters then allegedly went northbound on Garrett, where Patrolman Jamie Sample "witnessed the driver and passenger bail from the vehicle, and the unoccupied vehicle continued ? and crashed into the woods" at the intersection of Garrett and Bradley.
Sample, he said, provided officers with a direction of travel for Winters and his passenger, who went in different directions.
"They gave out a description and identified the driver," said deputy chief Jeff Rolland. "Other officers responded and set up a perimeter.
"Chief Whiteley encountered the suspect, Duanne Winters, in the 2000 block of Sanders Street, where he placed him under arrest without any additional resisting," Rolland said.
During the approximately 15-minute pursuit, Morgan said, Winters allegedly had no regard for traffic signals or stop signs, as well as pedestrians or oncoming traffic.
A perimeter also was set up for the passenger, and Butler County's canine was deployed, but couldn't pick up the man's trail and he was not found, said Morgan.
"We have a description, but we don't have him identified yet," Morgan said.
Prior to the Dodge Charger being impounded, Morgan said, a search was conducted and its contents inventoried.
"There was marijuana found between the driver and passenger seats laying on the console," Morgan said.
Another 2 ounces/a little more than 70 grams of suspected marijuana and digital scales also were found in a duffle bag containing clothing in the trunk of the car, which later was turned over to Enterprise Rent-a-Car personnel, he said.
Winters, 24, of the 1800 block of Alice was arrested on suspicion of driving while suspended, careless and imprudent driving, multiple stop sign violations, resisting arrest by fleeing, tampering with a motor vehicle, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was booked at the Butler County Jail.
"The officers involved said it was the highest speed pursuit they have been involved in in the city limits," Morgan said.
According to Rolland, the alleged pursuit was the result of a combination of factors.
"They knew the vehicle in their possession they did not own; it was stolen," Rolland said. "They knew they had drugs in the car. They already knew they had committed two felonies. Winters [also) was suspended.[CloseDouble]
As with "most people of this low character, they have no regard for humanity," Whiteley said. "They did not care who they hurt by selling their drugs to our children, and they do not care who they hurt when they flee from law enforcement.
"All they want to do is commit crimes and sell dope."
Winters, according to Whiteley, was arrested in July 2011 on suspicion of first-degree assault after allegedly shooting another person.
"I'll be checking on the status of that case, [and] we look forward to working with the prosecutor and judges to put these dangerous felons behind bars for a long time," Whiteley said.