A 55-year-old Tampa man was arrested Monday after fleeing from a traffic stop and leading law enforcement on a chase that spanned three counties, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Jeffrey Hugh Thompson, 55, was driving a 2014 GMC U-Haul box truck at about 2 a.m. when he was stopped by a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy, authorities said. Deputies reported that Thompson was wanted on outstanding felony warrants and threatened "suicide by law enforcement." Thompson drove off, and deputies sent out an alert about the vehicle.
The Highway Patrol offered this account of the incident:
A trooper spotted the U-Haul truck heading west on Fowler Avenue, swerving erratically between lanes. It then turned north onto Interstate 75 and headed into Pasco County, where a trooper tried to pull it over near State Road 54. Thompson kept going, troopers said, swerving recklessly from lane to lane and cutting in front of other vehicles as other officers joined the pursuit.
Thompson turned around and headed south on Interstate 275, then west on Hillsborough Avenue where we entered Pinellas County. Pinellas deputes were waiting with tire deflation devices. The spikes punctured his tires, but Thompson kept driving. Troopers then used what's known as the "PIT maneuver," or pursuit intervention technique. Troopers used the front-end of a cruiser to strike the back end of the U-Haul, causing it to spin out and stop at U.S. 19 and Highlands Boulevard in Palm Harbor.
Thompson was arrested on charges of reckless driving, fleeing and eluding law enforcement and driving with a suspended license. Records show he was wanted on arrest warrants for grand theft, grand theft auto, burglary of an occupied dwelling, dealing in stolen property, fleeing and eluding law enforcement, resisting arrest and failure to register as a career offender. He was booked and taken to the Hillsborough County jail, where he was being held without bail.
Contact Tony Marrero at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.