The Duncan Banner
A high speed chase reaching speeds of 62 miles per hour through residential neighborhoods ended in the faculty parking lot on the Duncan High School campus just before noon Thursday.
Austin Espinosa, 18, was quickly arrested by Duncan Police officers and is now sitting in Stephens County Jail, on booking charges of reckless driving, speeding, and felony charges of attempting to elude and running a road block.
Stephens County District Attorney Jason Hicks said that Espinosa will be sitting in jail throughout the Easter holiday weekend and official charges would be presented Monday. The courthouse is closed today.
“He’ll be in there and we’ll charge him Monday. I’ll be getting the affidavit but the charges won’t be official until then,” Hicks said.
DPD’s Lt. Bart Riley who initiated the chase, said Espinosa went around three roadblocks during the pursuit. It originally began when Espinosa allegedly was speeding northbound on 27th Street, in excess of 58 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone. He passed Riley who was southbound near the Greens Apartments.
“When I got up in front of the Greens, he was going about 62 miles per hour. He never slowed down. He looked at me when he passed me.
At one point, he hit Main Street going east and then onto 21st Street and onto Oak Avenue. By the time the chase was on Oak, Riley had managed to catch up with him and was the chase was bumper to bumper.
The pursuit zigzagged through more residential roads, and onto Beech Avenue, then onto U.S. Highway 81. Riley said the driver also ran a red light at 81/Pine before heading west toward the school.
“All he had to do was stop and get a speeding ticket, now he’s in jail on felony charges,” he said. Riley said that the chase could have been bad, especially after the driver ran the red light.
“That’s where we were the most cautious,” Riley said.
“At no point did he really indicate that he was headed to the school.”
Duncan Master Officer Cliff English and Officer Daryle Schmitt were the arresting officers, Riley said.
“By the time I got there, they had him in custody.” They had executed a tactical intervention maneuver to stop the car.
Riley said he has not confirmed if Espinosa was a student at DHS, but that the school campus officer, Michael Breeze, did confirm that. Riley said Espinosa didn’t have any prior traffic violations. Riley also said no weapons were found on the driver or in his vehicle.
Initially, The Banner received reports from parents and students that the high school went into lock-down mode, but only briefly.
Duncan High School Principal Gary Reed later said Thursday afternoon, that there was not enough time for an official lock down on the high school campus.
“I had never called and requested a lock down ... we had all the kids go to the east side of the campus. There was not enough chance to go into a lock down mode,” he said. Reed said that it all happened so quickly it was fairly chaotic and students were outside moving from classroom to classroom. They were brought into the building as quickly as possible, he said.
“This is pretty frightening for us,” Reed said.
A Duncan reporter arrived on the scene about 20 to 25 minutes after the suspect was arrested. The reporter was escorted by a Duncan school security officer and another school official while in the parking lot. A wrecker was already at the parking lot to secure the suspect’s vehicle. Five Duncan patrol cars were also on scene.