A Virginia National Guard soldier faces charges of driving under the influence of drugs and eluding police after authorities say he drove an armored military vehicle in a two-hour police chase through Virginia on Tuesday night.
Police pursued the M577 armored personnel carrier along Route 460 and Interstate 95 before the chase ended with the driver’s arrest in downtown Richmond.
In Richmond, bystanders captured the slow pursuit on video. Onlookers gawked as the boxy armored vehicle sped down a commercial street and traffic stopped for a line of police cars that followed behind, sirens blaring. Overhead, a police helicopter tracked the stolen personnel carrier’s progress.
The vehicle was taken from Fort Pickett, a National Guard base in Blackstone, Virginia, shortly before 8 p.m. The vehicle can only drive a maximum speed of about 40 mph and wasn’t equipped with any weaponry.
Joshua Philip Yabut, 29, of Richmond, was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, and charged him with one felony count of eluding police and one felony count of unauthorized use of a vehicle, the Virginia National Guard said.
The Virginia National Guard said the unit was doing routine training when Yabut allegedly drove away in the vehicle. He had his personal weapon with him during the pursuit but did not have ammunition, the Guard said. He is being held in Richmond City Jail, officials said.
Yabut was apparently tweeting during the pursuit, according to KTLA sister station WTVR in Richmond.
The images were taken shortly after the chase started, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
A tweet earlier in the day possibly indicated his plans, the newspaper reported. It showed a screenshot of map of Capitol Square in Virginia and a screenshot of a Wikipedia entry for the M113 armed personal carrier.
Though not the same as the vehicle Yabut is accused of stealing, the two are similar, according to the Times-Dispatch.
The vehicle has been returned to Fort Pickett with no significant damage, officials said.
“We are extremely grateful that there were no injuries as a result of this incident, and we appreciate the great work of the Virginia State Police, Richmond Police Department and other law enforcement and first responders who safely brought this situation to a close,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the adjutant general of Virginia.
Yabut is a first lieutenant in the Virginia National Guard and has more than 11 years of service, the Virginia National Guard said, and he deployed to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009 with the Illinois National Guard.