Two Miles City men are in custody following gunfire, the attempted theft of a police car, and a high-speed chase through Laurel, Monday afternoon.
Law enforcement officers apprehended Austin Allery, 18, and Hayden Lowry, 19, suspects in the alleged theft of a stolen Miles City vehicle followed by a chase on Saturday night in Laurel, as well as a vehicle theft and chase Monday afternoon, and multiple thefts in five counties.
Both men are in custody at the Yellowstone County Detention Facility and charges are pending.
At about 12:42 p.m. Monday afternoon, a resident reported seeing two males who matched the description of the men involved in a pursuit and crash two nights prior walking along the railroad tracks. Two Laurel police officers located the men on Bernhardt Road near the entrance of the Laurel Wal-Mart. When the officers contacted the men, the individuals evaded questions about their identities, then fled on foot in opposite directions. The officers gave chase.
According to a Laurel Police Department press release, one suspect entered a patrol vehicle, put the car into “drive,” and attempted to leave the scene. The pursuing officer climbed into the vehicle and fought the suspect for control, forcing the car into “park.” The suspect continued to resist arrest, but the officer was able to subdue him and place him under arrest and in handcuffs.
The second suspect ran into Wal-Mart, where the pursuing officer lost him in the crowd. After a brief search it was determined the suspect had left the store for a nearby Pizza Hut.
According to the police report, the suspect car-jacked the driver of a maroon Ford extended cab pickup truck by brandishing a handgun and attempted to flee in the vehicle in the parking lot of the restaurant.
A citizen, trying to assist officers, rammed the stolen pickup with another car.
The suspect allegedly drove on and shots were fired. It is unclear if gunfire was exchanged, but the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office did confirm that a deputy, who was providing back-up, fired shots, wounding the suspect.
Police said the suspect led officers on a chase topping speeds of 80 miles per hour for about 30 minutes, skirting the east and north edges of Laurel. Officers deployed two sets of spike strips on Airport Road, over which the suspect ran. Driving on flat tires, the suspect cut south through the heart of town, past the high school, and headed eastbound on Old Highway 10 toward Park City, where Stillwater County Sheriff’s deputies had blocked exits.
The suspect continued for several miles before he lost control of the stolen truck and went off the road near Snowline Vista Way and Old U.S. Highway 10 west of Laurel.
The second suspect was taken into custody without further incident and transported by the Laurel Ambulance Service to Billings medical facilities for treament of minor injuries.
As of press time, officials had not named which suspect was driving the pickup truck.
Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder said that the deputy, whose name hasn’t been released but was identified as a man, has been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure in such incidents, pending review of the incident.
No officers were injured.
According to Laurel police, Allery and Lowry were wanted in connection with thefts spanning five counties that culminated when Laurel officers initiated a traffic stop at 11 p.m. Saturday night on a white Dodge pickup truck. The occupants had reportedly been trying to gain entry into other vehicles. The 2006 Dodge 1500 mega cab pickup had been stolen from the 600 block of South Merriam Ave. on Feb. 12 or 13, Miles City Police said. It belongs to Jeremy Hart.
Lowry and Allery fled, leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase through rural back roads near the Yellowstone-Stillwater County line. Having unknowingly driven down a road with no outlet, the stolen pickup truck careened off a 30-foot embankment northwest of Laurel and rolled another 100 feet into a field, said Laurel police officials. Firearms, some confirmed stolen, were flung from the wreck.
Multiple agencies searched for an hour and a half, but the two men had disappeared into a snowstorm.
Allery had been a student at Miles Community College in Miles City. Not knowing if the two men would make their way back to town, MCC put out a safety alert to students, staff, faculty and trustees on Monday through e-mail and the event link notification system, according to Human Resource Director Kylene Phipps.
Allery is a dorm resident, so it was not known if he would come on campus. The alert stated that the two men could possibly be armed and instructed people to call local law enforcement if they were seen.