ANGELINA CO. (KTRE) – Department of Public Safety troopers were still working Saturday to link all the pieces to an overnight car chase that left one deputy injured and damaged several patrol cars before a suspect could be caught.
The pursuit began when a DPS trooper attempted to stop the driver of a truck on an apparent traffic violation. Three other DPS units joined the chase which started around 10:23 on Highway 59 at FM 324 in the northbound lane and ended with the arrest of Mario Lopez, roughly nine minutes later.
According to Lufkin Police Sergeant Scott Cagnon, LPD got involved with the chase around 10:30 Friday night when DPS notified them of the pursuit of a vehicle on Highway 59 south heading into Lufkin.
Sgt. Cagnon said once the chase reached the Lufkin city limits, the suspect took Loop 287 in an apparent effort to elude them. He said officers attempted to set out road spikes to disable the suspect's vehicle, however, the suspect managed to make an about face, avoiding the roadblock and continuing his getaway on Davisville Road.
At least three sheriff's patrol units were damaged in the pursuit. According to Angelina County Sheriff's Lt. Bryan Holley, four deputies joined the DPS pursuit around 10:40 at different locations on east Loop 287. At one point, the suspect's vehicle cut across church property on Davisville Road while a church service was in progress. Lt. Holley said deputy Robert Willmon was attempting to lay a road spike in a small alleyway in that area when Lopez's vehicle appeared to charge him, causing Willmon to dodge the oncoming truck and in the process injure his leg. Willmon was treated at a Lufkin hospital and released to continue his recovery at a physical rehabilitation facility.
Lt. Holley said three sheriff's patrol cars had damage, one unit was hit in the front by the suspect's vehicle, and the two others were hit during the pursuit. A police department unit also had damage.
The chase finally came to an end at the 1800 block of North Timberland Drive when police managed to stop and arrest Lopez, 37, Lufkin.
All three law enforcement agencies are said to be planning charges against Lopez, including DWI, evading arrest, and assault on a public servant. Lopez remains in jail. His bond is set at $25,000, however, he has also been placed on hold and the U-S Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) has been contacted.
The investigation continues.