FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A Hoagland man accused of causing three crashes – including a hit-and-skip on Interstate 69 – and leading police on multiple chases in a matter of minutes late last week is now facing a slew of felony charges.
It took 25-year-old Joseph K. Stewart crashing into a backyard in the area of a home on the city’s near north side before police could finally corral him, according to Allen Superior Court documents.
Stewart is accused of being involved in a hit-and-skip near the 302 mile-marker of Interstate 69 late Friday afternoon. At that point, he was driving a white utility truck, court documents said, which an Allen County Sheriff’s officer spotted in the area of Illinois Road and Magnavox Way shortly after that initial crash.
The officer noticed the truck make an illegal lane change, and then noticed it had a deflated flat tire and a front bumper crushed into the wheel well.
At first, the truck stopped at Illinois Road and Thomas Road after the officer turned on his emergency lights. When the officer approached, he saw Stewart in the driver’s seat. The truck then began rolling. When the officer told Stewart to stop, he replied in court documents he was “going to the shop.”
The truck then sped away from the officer, ran over a concrete median and into oncoming traffic, blew through a red light and sped north onto Thomas Road, according to court documents. The officer estimated the truck was going 60 miles-per-hour in a 40 miles-per-hour zone on Thomas at one point, passing cars in a no passing zone and going into on-coming traffic several times.
Stewart pulled the truck into Minnick Services on Thomas Road, court records said. He got out, ignored the officer’s commands to lay down on the ground and got into a silver Jeep Liberty. The officer stepped away from the Jeep so he didn’t get run over, he wrote in court documents.
The Jeep went into reverse, crashing into the utility truck, then sped through an open b ay door of a metal barn building where employees were working, court documents said. One of those employees later told police if he hadn’t jumped out of the way he would’ve been run over.
Other officers then joined in chasing Stewart, who crashed into the backyard of a home near the area of Spring Street and Sprunger Avenue, court documents said. He then tried to run from officers, who took him into custody in the home’s front yard while he continually tried to resist.
Inside the Jeep, officers found a .40-calibre handgun with a magazine that contained 13 rounds – 12 of which were ball rounds with one hollow point, court records said.
Due to an armed robbery conviction, Stewart is barred from possessing a firearm. He was also suspected of being intoxicated. He refused all sobriety or chemical breath tests, according to court records, forcing police to order a blood test.
Stewart was booked into Allen County Jail on $17,500 bond. He’s facing the following charges.
- One felony count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon
- Two felony counts of resisting law enforcement with a vehicle
- One felony count of criminal recklessness committed with a deadly weapon
- Two misdemeanor counts of resisting law enforcement
- One misdemeanor count of leaving the scene of an accident
- One misdemeanor count of operating a vehicle while intoxicated
- Two infractions of speeding
- One infraction of unsafe lane movement without a signal
- One infraction of driving left of center
- One infraction of disregarding a signal
- One infraction of improper passing on the left
- One infraction of overtaking and passing in a worksite/no passing zone