A press release from the Appanoose County Sheriff's office issued Sunday afternoon states on Friday, Dec. 14 the employees at Konvenience Korner on South 18th Street reported the theft of gasoline. Employees also stated the suspect vehicle had left the business heading south on Highway 5. Employees provided a vehicle description and an Illinois license plate number. An inquiry was made on the Illinois license plate and it was revealed that the vehicle was a 2004 Dodge Durango SUV and was also reported stolen from Rochelle, Ill. earlier in the day.
An Appanoose County deputy sheriff located the vehicle heading south on Highway 5 north of Cincinnati. When the driver of the stolen vehicle saw the deputy and before the deputy attempted to stop the vehicle, the driver began driving at high rates of speed and in a reckless manner.
A pursuit of the vehicle began and the driver of the stolen vehicle reached speeds of over 100 miles per hour. As the stolen vehicle travelled towards the state of Missouri, law enforcement assistance was requested from the Missouri State Patrol, Putnam County Sheriff and police department.
As the stolen vehicle approached the Missouri state line, a Missouri state trooper attempted to deploy stop sticks. The driver of the stolen vehicle intentionally swerved towards and aimed the stolen vehicle at the state trooper. The state trooper was unable to deploy the stop sticks and took evasive action from the oncoming vehicle.
After being pursued through rural Putnam County and into Unionville, Mo., the driver of the stolen vehicle lost control of the vehicle and entered a residential yard. The Appanoose County deputy struck the stolen vehicle and blocked the path of the vehicle.
Authorities blocked the driver’s escape route, but the driver failed to comply with law enforcement commands and attempted to escape. As the driver was attempting to escape from the authorities the vehicle struck a ditch and rolled on to its side.
The driver of the stolen vehicle was removed from the vehicle and taken into custody.
The driver was identified as 18 year old Gerardo Antonio Contreras. Contreras is from Rochelle, Ill.
Contreras is being held in the Putnam County Jail on multiple felony charges and is facing felony eluding, felony theft and other misdemeanor charges in Iowa.
Four law enforcement vehicles were damaged in the incident however no law enforcement officers were injured.
A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.