By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
Two California residents were arrested Saturday after Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and Oldham County Sheriff’s deputies shot out the tires of their vehicle to stop a chase that began in Tucumcari.
Cornell Cooper Brown Jr., 19, of Lancaster, Calif., and Brandy Lynn Dain, 19, of Palmdale, Calif., remain in the Oldham County Jail after they were arrested in Potter County west of Amarillo, Texas, said Texas Trooper Chris Ray.
Brown is being held in lieu of a $40,000 bond, Dain’s bond was set at $8,000.
Ray said troopers were searching for vehicle matching the description given to them by Tucumcari Police Department officers, who had been involved in a pursuit.
At 8 a.m., Tucumcari Police officer Abel Cullum was responding to several vehicle burglary calls when he reported a Nissan SUV driving at a high rate of speed on Route 66, said Police Chief Jason Braziel.
Braziel said Cullum attempted to stop the vehicle but lost sight of it when it turned south onto Mountain Road. He said Cullum patrolled Mountain road and Interstate 40 without spotting the vehicle. When he got off I-40 and drove north on Mountain Road, he spotted the vehicle driving south on the same road.
Braziel said Cullum attempted to stop the vehicle, but the driver, later identified as Brown, instead fled south on Mountain Road.
Braziel said the pursuit continued to Arch Hurley Conservancy District’s canal maintenance road. He said at one point Cullum attempted to pass the vehicle to prevent it from crossing a cattle guard, but Brown rammed Cullum’s patrol unit and proceeded through the gate.
Braziel said the vehicle then led Cullum to Route 66 where Sgt. Russell Shafer joined the pursuit.
Speeds reached over 90 miles per hour, Braziel said. Shafer called off the pursuit off at 8:30 a.m. for public safety reasons when the suspect vehicle veered into oncoming traffic and nearly collided head-on with a truck, he said.
Ray said troopers encountered the black Nissan SUV about a half hour later at 10 a.m. (CDT) in Oldham County.
Brown refused to stop, and a pursuit began east on I-40. Ray said troopers and deputies attempted to stop the vehicle twice by using spiked strips, and even though the tires were damaged, the driver refused to stop.
Ray said Brown crossed the median onto westbound I-40 and was driving the wrong way into oncoming traffic forcing other vehicles off the road. He said troopers decided for public safety reasons to end the pursuit quickly and elected to shoot out the tires of the vehicle.
Ray said the shots were fired in Oldham County and the vehicle came to stop just inside the Potter County line. He said Brown surrendered immediately without incident but Dain fought with law enforcement officers.
Ray said there were two additional passengers in the vehicle, a man and a woman, but they were not charged or connected to any crime in Texas. After the pursuit, police learned that the vehicle, a 2009 Nissan Mulano, had been reported stolen in California.
Ray said Brown has been charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in addition to possession of a controlled substance, felony possession of body armor and evading arrest. He said Dain has been charged with assault of a public servant and resisting arrest.
Braziel said officers recovered a shotgun near the Flying J Truck stop on South Mountain Road that matches the description of one reported stolen from a rental truck at a Tucumcari motel. He said witness saw a passenger in the Nissan SUV throwing the weapon into the weeds near the truck stop.
Braziel said Brown, Dain and the other two passengers are connected to multiple burglaries in Tucumcari and he expects they will all be charged with those crimes, as well as with aggravated assault on a police officer and two counts of aggravated assault and aggravated fleeing.