A Southwest City man already facing charges was accused Thursday of possessing the brush truck that the Redings Mill Fire Protection District reported on Monday as having been stolen along with other equipment.
Matthew A. Fisher, 38, faces a charge of first-degree tampering with a motor vehicle filed in Jasper County Circuit Court after his arrest Wednesday afternoon by Jasper police Chief Chad Karr.
Karr spotted the truck being driven Wednesday afternoon in the area of County Road 130, south of Jasper.
Fisher was taken into custody by Karr after the Redings Mill truck was abandoned and the driver had run off, authorities said.
"The vehicle had no license plates and appeared to be the Redings Mill truck that was missing, but it was very badly spray-painted," Karr said. Black spray paint had been used to cover the fire department emblems on the red truck, but Karr said the paint job was what helped give away the identity of the vehicle.
Karr tried to stop the driver in the area of Interstate 49 and Thorn Road.
"He pulled over about three seconds and then took off through a ditch and then the pursuit started," Karr said. He gave chase as the truck headed east to County Road 130 and then south to Baseline Road and then across I-49. The driver traveled through a culvert and across someone's property and then pulled back up onto I-49. Karr stayed with the truck as it crossed an I-49 outer road and sped into a field.
The driver abandoned the truck and took off on foot as other law enforcement officers arrived and set up a perimeter.
Karr was on Baseline Road as he saw a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper approaching in the field behind the suspect.
The lawmen lost sight of the running man, but Karr stayed on foot and continued searching the fields. "I figured he had laid down" to hide, "and I didn't want him to get up and keep going."
When Karr got to County Road 130, he saw a tractor on the road turning into a field with cattle. The tractor was carrying a round hay bale. Karr said he had gotten a good enough look at the driver's face to recognize the man on the tractor.
The man on the tractor posed as a farmer, but the chief found a Redings Mill Fire Department gas card in the man's possession. That was one of the items listed as being stolen with the truck.
He was taken into custody at 4:30 p.m.
In taking inventory of the recovered truck Thursday, law enforcement officers found much of the property that had been reported stolen with it.
Fisher was being held in the Jasper County Jail late Thursday afternoon in lieu of $10,000 bond. Associate Judge Joseph Hensley required that 10 percent of the bond be paid in cash and house arrest with an ankle monitor if he posts bond.
Fisher faces other charges in Newton and McDonald counties. He is awaiting trial in Newton County on a charge of first-degree tampering with a vehicle filed against him in September 2017. He pleaded not guilty to the charge last year.
He was taken Thursday to Newton County to be arraigned on a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia after he failed to appear in court on it Monday.
He also is charged in McDonald County with stealing a motor vehicle on Nov. 14. The warrant on the charge was served on him Wednesday after he was arrested by Karr, according to online court records. Bond on that charge is set at $1,500.