Carjacking suspect appears in court

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Courts Reporter

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A Longview man accused of pointing a gun at police after leading them on a high-speed chase through Hazel Dell that ended in west Vancouver’s Lincoln neighborhood Thursday evening made a first appearance in Clark County Superior Court on Friday.

Scott D. Lavelle, 23, was captured shortly before 8:15 p.m. by officers and a police dog. He appeared Friday morning on suspicion of attempting to elude police, two counts of first-degree assault, theft of a motor vehicle, first-degree robbery and being an ex-convict in possession of a firearm.

Lavelle also allegedly eluded authorities earlier in the day in Felida.

Clark County Sheriff’s deputies had attempted to stop a vehicle Thursday morning as part of a drug investigation. However, the vehicle sped off and crashed just before noon, the sheriff’s office said. No one was injured, and the driver was taken into custody — but a passenger believed to be Lavelle ran away. Police searched for him near the Salmon Creek Trail but were unable to find him.

Lavelle was wanted in connection with a kidnapping case in Cowlitz County and on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver, court records said.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed in Superior Court, police were advised later that day by the Drug Task Force that Lavelle was seen in the area of Northwest 119th Street. He was reportedly heading to the Country Market, 1804 N.W. 119th St., to meet his grandmother.

At about 6:30 p.m., police spotted a man matching Lavelle’s description speeding in a white Mercury Cougar near the market on Northwest 119th Street. Deputies attempted to pull over the car, which continued southbound, reportedly hitting speeds of 80 mph, court documents said.

Carjacking

Lavelle had obtained the car in an armed carjacking at the market, the affidavit says.

Jennifer Thomas, told police that shortly after she’d gotten in her car, Lavelle reached into the front seat from where he’d been hiding under blankets in the back seat and grabbed her arm, court records said.

She said Lavelle told her he wouldn’t hurt her, and that she needed to drive him to Longview. She said he had a “large black gun” pointed at her. She reportedly told Lavelle she didn’t have the right keys for the car, trying to get him to leave, but he told her to try the keys anyway, according to court documents.

Thomas then told Lavelle she couldn’t drive him because she has an infant she needed to care for, and he told her she could leave if she gave him directions to Interstate 5. She gave him directions to Hazel Dell Avenue, and as he began to climb into the front seat of the car Thomas pushed open the door and freed herself of Lavelle’s grasp. She ran and he sped off, with the gun pointed at her the entire time, court records said.

Car chase

During the pursuit, Lavelle nearly crashed into the back of a vehicle on Northwest 119th Street and began driving into oncoming traffic and the center median to pass vehicles, the affidavit says.

As the car continued, it ran a red light on Highway 99 and turned south then east on Northeast Parkview Road and made an immediate U-turn. It nearly hit the front end of a patrol vehicle as it turned back south onto Highway 99. It hit another car at Northeast 88th Street and continued south without stopping, according to court records.

The car briefly got onto Interstate 5 and then exited at West 39th Street, where it lost control and crashed at the intersection of Northeast Creston Avenue. Lavelle ran from the car, pointing a 9 mm handgun at a pursuing sheriff’s deputy, the affidavit says. Officers reportedly found an unfired 9mm round near 205 E. 39th St.

A SWAT team responded to the area and set up a search perimeter. Residents were instructed to stay inside their homes. Emergency dispatchers used a phone system to alert nearby residents to the police activity. Vancouver police and Washington State Patrol troopers assisted.

One of the K-9 officers tracking Lavelle found and bit him about 8:14 p.m. He was apparently hiding behind a detached garage behind 202 E. 39th St. A handgun magazine was located in the grass nearby, which contained at least two 9 mm rounds that appeared similar to the first round that police recovered, according to court documents.

Lavelle was taken into custody and sent to a local hospital for treatment of the dog bite.

Court

During his hearing on Friday, Deputy Prosecutor James Smith said Lavelle has a lengthy criminal history, which includes assault, with the use of a firearm.

Judge Suzan Clark appointed attorney Jeff Staples to represent Lavelle.

His bail was set at $500,000. He is scheduled to be arraigned July 10.