By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
The driver of a stolen pickup who crashed into a parked van Tuesday morning was able to elude authorities.
Keizer Police Department officers on bike patrol in Keizer Station Tuesday stopped the white Toyota pickup around 10:30 a.m. when the driver was spotted not wearing his seatbelt. The plates returned as a stolen vehicle and the driver took off, while the officers on bike alerted other units.
As officers chased the suspect down Lockhaven Drive, the driver attempted to cut through the 7-11 parking lot at Lockhaven and River Road. The attempt wasn’t successful, however, as he crashed into a parked Ford Aerostar van. The two occupants in the truck jumped out and fled on foot.
“They both went through the car lot to the (Shoreline Pointe Apartments),” KPD deputy chief Jeff Kuhns said. “The passenger came back, ran across River Road and ran into Rite-Aid. We caught him coming out the back.”
While the passenger was being transported to Marion County Correctional Facility, Kuhns said a perimeter was set up to catch the driver, described as a young Hispanic male about 5’5” in height. The perimeter included Trail Avenue and Manzanita Street.
“We believe he entered an apartment behind the 7-11,” Kuhns said. “The occupants gave us permission to search the apartment, but nothing was found.”
Lt. Andrew Copeland said Gubser Elementary and Whiteaker Middle Schools were notified as a precaution but weren’t in full lockdown mode.
“Officers went to the schools to check them out,” Copeland said.
Around 12:15 p.m. the perimeter was being taken down when a new report came in that a young Hispanic male was seen running through the backyard of a residence on the 5800 block of River Road, just up from the 7-11. Police vehicles littered the hill up River Road as officers from the KPD and deputies with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office searched the area, with help from police K-9s.
The search was called off around 12:45 p.m., with the suspect not found.
Copeland said the suspect could be the same person sought in other recent burglaries, including the one from early April when a Hispanic male stole a charity jar from 7-11.
“It’s possible,” Copeland said. “He matches the description.”