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RC Crime Spree Ends After Shootout, Chase

March 6, 2012, 7:09 PM by Derek Olson

RC Crime Spree Ends After Shootout, Chase

Five Rapid City men are in jail after an early-morning crime spree.  The rampage included an armed robbery, a home break-in and ended with gunshots. The suspects have not yet been charged, but police say it is unlikely any of them will be on the streets soon.

Tuesday's early-morning crime spree began at 1 a.m. when two suspects stole close to $90 of beer from the Corner Pantry convenience store at the Lacrosse exit of I-90.  But police say the suspects were just warming up.

"These are not happy-go-lucky teenage kids that are bored at home.  This is much more than that," Rapid City Police Chief Steve Allender said.

Another North Rapid convenience store was robbed at gunpoint by two men roughly one hour later.  Their take: four packs of cigarettes and a package of sunflower seeds.

Then, shortly after 3 a.m., police responded to a residential burglary at a home near Skyline Drive.  The person at home heard glass breaking and when confronted, the suspect fled.

"The homeowner was able to provide a description of the vehicle," Allender said.

Less than 15 minutes later, a Highway Patrol Trooper used that description to identify the vehicle and started chasing the suspects.

Police tried using spike strips twice, but missed their mark.

After reaching speeds of 60 miles per hour, the suspect vehicle did the unthinkable.

"Somewhere near the area of 5th Street and South Street, the driver of this vehicle swerved toward the path of an oncoming, unrelated ambulance on an emergency run to the hospital with a patient," Allender said.

Fortunately, there was no collision and everyone in the ambulance was uninjured.

Police had spike-strip success a short time later at 5th and Omaha. Popping three of the car's four tires and slowing the chase to 20 miles per hour.

But blocks later, 21-year-old suspect Matt Wright emerged from the passenger door of the moving car, firing a handgun at officers. Officers later found out, it was a bb-gun.

"It looks like a pistol, made a noise that was audible to the officers. They remarked on the radio that they believed that this was a .22 caliber pistol, or a small-caliber pistol," Allender said.

An officer returned fire, firing four shots; all of them missed.

It all ended in a North Rapid alley, just before 4 a.m. Police caught everyone in the car.

It is likely that all will face charges.

"The fact that a weapon was drawn, which was very easily perceived as a firearm of some caliber, is an extremely serious event here in our community and we're going to make sure that we formulate charges that are able to hold these people accountable," Pennington County State's Attorney Glenn Brenner said.

"I think the good news in this story is that we were able to apprehend these guys in the middle of a three-hour crime spree and that they are not out there tonight.  They will not be causing problems tonight," Allender said.

Because of the litany of crimes committed, Brenner says that formal charges won't be brought until Wednesday. 

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