Saturday, October 31, 2020
Oct. 31, 2020

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Suspect in high-speed chase appears in court

By , Columbian Breaking News Reporter

The suspect who allegedly rammed a pursuing patrol car during a high-speed chase on state Highway 14 last week made an initial court appearance Tuesday.

Vernon Shelton, 43, was booked Monday into the Clark County Jail on suspicion of second-degree assault and eluding police, court records say.

Clark County Superior Court Judge Bernard Veljacic set bail in Shelton’s case at $75,000, court records show. Shelton’s next hearing scheduled for Friday is to confirm his identity. He appeared in court Tuesday as Vernon Lee O’Rourke. Clark County sheriff’s Sgt. Alex Schoening said O’Rourke is the suspect’s mother’s last name.

According to a sheriff’s office statement, the chase started at 4:34 p.m. when a sheriff’s detective saw an older, red Acura coupe pass him at speeds over 100 mph and continue while weaving in and out of lanes.

The detective reported that he caught up with the Acura, reaching speeds up to 98 mph, and observed “clear willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others,” before activating his lights and sirens to intervene, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The Acura continued east on state Highway 14 and took the Sixth Street exit in Camas before abruptly changing course and speeding west on Highway 14, the sheriff’s office statement said.

The detective followed the Acura until they were near Northeast 192nd Avenue and began to slow to discontinue the pursuit, in part, because there were no other law enforcement officers close enough to help catch the speeding suspect, according to the affidavit. But the Acura also slowed, suddenly swerving in what was described as an attempt to crash into the detective’s patrol car.

The detective couldn’t avoid the collision, and the Acura lost control and slid off the roadway on the north side of state Highway 14.

Court documents allege that Shelton intentionally tried to ram the pursuing detective. A witness told deputies that he heard the red sedan brake suddenly and the deputy’s SUV brake with it, then the sedan “suddenly and aggressively move toward the police SUV,” the affidavit says.

Shelton reportedly jumped out of the vehicle and ran into a nearby rock quarry, but he was found and arrested after being tracked by Vancouver Police Department K-9 Ivar.

Deputies said Shelton was taken to a hospital with not life-threatening injuries. The detective was not injured.

Shelton had been in the hospital up until his booking, Schoening said. But jail booking documents say Shelton escaped from the hospital at one point. The documents list Monday morning as Shelton’s date and time of arrest; they do not indicate how far away from the hospital he made it, simply that he “just walked away from the hospital.”