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Brandi Jewett, Forum Communications, Published August 07 2012

Grand Forks police arrest suspect in Friday chase in which vehicle found in Fargo

GRAND FORKS – A manhunt ended Tuesday with the capture of Grand Forks man Juan Angel Robles after he led police on three separate car chases in two cities with at least one stolen vehicle over the course of five days.

Police apprehended Robles, 31, south of Grand Forks, approximately three miles east of County Road 5 on County Road 6 after he led the Grand Forks Police Department on a high-speed pursuit.

During the chase, Robles lost control of his vehicle and hit the guardrail of a small bridge, said Sgt. Bill Macki.

The vehicle, a white 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix, became caught in the guardrail and Robles attempted to flee on foot. Police shot him with a stun gun after he refused to halt.

“It was the best-case scenario,” Macki said, as no officers or civilians were injured in the chase, which reached speeds of more than 100 mph.

Police have been searching for Robles since Friday after he fled from officers who witnessed him driving recklessly.

Robles was spotted Tuesday in the Bringewatt Park area of Grand Forks shortly before 10 a.m. by a resident who had a short verbal exchange with him before calling police and alerting them to his location.

Officers responded to the area and located the Grand Prix in the 2100 block of 24th Avenue South. At first, they said, Robles pulled over to the side of the street and officers gave verbal commands for him to exit the vehicle.

After the commands were issued, Robles directed his vehicle back onto the street and began his third car chase in five days with Grand Forks police.

While in town, Macki said, Robles maintained low speeds, but there was too much traffic for police to successfully complete a maneuver to move him off the road. Robles headed south on South 25th Street, west on 32nd Avenue South and then south on Columbia Road. He turned onto County Road 6 from Columbia and sped west.

Approximately three miles east of County Road 5, Robles lost control of his vehicle when he swerved to miss a road crew repairing potholes. Lt. Roger Pohlman with said initial reports say the Grand Prix may have glanced off of the county vehicle or its trailer.

The car continued down the road where it hit the guardrail of a bridge and became stuck. Robles exited the vehicle and began running toward the road crew’s vehicle.

After ignoring commands from police to stop, he was subdued using a stun gun and taken into custody, Macki said.

Robles’ only visible injuries were cuts, but Pohlman said he was taken to Altru as a precaution.

Wanted man

Robles has been sought by police since Friday, when he led them on a car chase through south Grand Forks after he was seen driving a Chrysler 300 recklessly in a residential area.

A Border Patrol Agent who witnessed the second of two accidents Robles was involved in that day followed him to the area of Cottonwood Street and 10th Avenue South, but lost sight of him.

The Chrysler Robles was driving did not belong to him, but was not reported stolen, Pohlman said.

Police had a second chance to apprehend Robles after receiving a report that a light blue Ford Expedition had been stolen before 1 p.m. Sunday. Officers spotted the vehicle in a parking lot on 30th Avenue South and attempted to approach it. Robles entered the Expedition and proceeded to leave the lot, striking an officer and a garage, Pohlman said.

The officer, Wesley Vert fired a shot at Robles while being dragged by the vehicle. Vert is currently on paid administrative leave while his use of the firearm is being reviewed.

Authorities lost Robles in the Cottonwood Street area. He was picked up again on Interstate 29 near Gardner, N.D., by an off-duty GFPD officer.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol pursued him into Fargo, but had to back off the pursuit for the safety of the public.

Fargo police found the stolen SUV abandoned on railroad tracks near Dakota Avenue in Fargo. Attempts to track Robles using scent dogs were unsuccessful.

Charges against Robles for reckless endangerment and theft of a motor vehicle are pending. Pohlman says he expects more to be added once paperwork is processed, including possible charges for a gas station drive-off that occurred during the timeframe of the second chase Sunday.

GFPD, the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office, North Dakota Highway Patrol, U.S. Border Patrol and Fargo law enforcement agencies have been involved with the case.


Brandi Jewett writes for the Grand Forks Herald