Archive for Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Driver arrested at gunpoint

June 19, 2002

A wild ride Friday morning landed a Topeka man wanted for parole violation in the Leavenworth County Jail.

According to Tongan-oxie Police Sgt. John Putt- hoff, Verlon Thompson, 37, has been charged in Leavenworth County District Court with possession of a stolen vehicle, criminal damage to the vehicle and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Putthoff, who at about 10:30 a.m. Friday was in his parked patrol car at the intersection of U.S. Highway 24-40 and Kansas Highway 16, heard a radio report of an erratic driver about two miles west of Tonganoxie on Sandusky Road. Within minutes, the vehicle arrived at the intersection.

"He cut across the highway and made a u-turn there," Putthoff said. "He came to me, he jumped out. I met him there and other officers arrived and he was arrested."

Until the other officers arrived, Putthoff, concerned that the man might be dangerous, held him at gunpoint.

"Normally they don't come running to you when they're involved in something like that," Putthoff said. "He appeared to be on something, he was very uncooperative."

Leavenworth County Undersheriff Burdell Welsh and other sheriff's officers arrested Thompson and took him to the Leaven- worth County Jail.

Putthoff said the vehicle Thompson was driving was reported stolen from a Topeka car dealership and the license plate also was believed to be stolen.

Two eyewitnesses, Tom Pulkrabek and Jim Bennett, both of Tonganoxie, watched as officers arrested Thompson. Bennett had alerted the sheriff's office about Thompson's driving.

"I have the Leavenworth County Sheriff programmed into my cell phone," Bennett said. "When I got to the top of Hubbel Hill where I was in range I called the sheriff," Bennett said.

According to Bennett and Pulkrabek, Thompson had been driving the vehicle through the ditches and over culverts on both sides of the road.

"He was completely airborne at times," Pulkrabek said. "I thought he was going to roll."

Pulkrabek was driving behind Thompson, Bennett in front of him. At one point, Pulkrabek, who is a volunteer firefighter, stopped on the roadway. He had his two-way radio in his hand. Thompson stopped his vehicle beside Pulkrabek.

"He saw I had my radio and said 'I don't want any trouble,'" Pulkrabek said, adding that Thompson told him he was just trying to show his girlfriend what the vehicle could do.

A 31-year-old Kansas City, Kan., woman was with Thompson. She was not charged.

Cpt. Mark Conboy, Kansas Highway Patrol officer assigned to the Kansas Turnpike Authority, said Thompson also may have damaged turnpike property early Thursday morning.

Conboy said troopers had a call at about 7:15 in the morning that a black SUV had backed through a fire gate near the Bonner Springs toll booth.

"It broke out all the back window of the vehicle and broke the gate and continued northbound on a dirt road," Conboy said.

Damage to the turnpike gate was estimated at $405.

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