Flagstaff, AZ – An Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) trooper fired a rifle at a fleeing trucker on Friday morning, after the semi-truck driver barreled over a median and drove into oncoming traffic on the interstate.
The incident began at approximately 7:30 a.m., when a trooper spotted a red semi-truck heading eastbound on Interstate 40, the Arizona Daily Sun reported.
Before the trooper could initiate an inspection of the vehicle, the driver took the Walnut Canyon National Monument exit and left the interstate, police said.
A short while later, the truck returned to Interstate 40, but a different driver was operating the 18-wheeler, the Arizona Daily Sun reported.
The trooper recognized the drivers’ behaviors as being suspicious, so he pulled the truck over and began conducting an inspection of the vehicle.
During the stop, a witness stopped and told the trooper that the truck driver had tossed a package out of the cab and onto the median, police said.
As the inspection continued, one of the two drivers jumped back into the semi-truck and sped away from the scene, leading the trooper on a pursuit, the Arizona Daily Sun reported.
The driver repeatedly crossed over the median to avoid tire-deflating devices during the harrowing chase, at times traveling into oncoming traffic on both sides of the roadway, according to the Associated Press.
“This gentleman dictated the course of the events from the moment he jumped in the vehicle and fled the inspection,” DPS spokesperson Bart Graves told the Arizona Daily Sun. “By his driving behavior, he showed no regard for anyone else on the road.”
As the fleeing driver sped into oncoming traffic, a trooper on an interstate overpass made the decision to use deadly force to try to stop him from harming other motorists, the Associated Press reported.
“You have an 18-wheeler, rolling down the road going the wrong way,” Graves told the Arizona Daily Sun. “These trucks may weigh several tons. That could have been an absolute disaster, a huge loss of life if he struck another vehicle, or vehicles, or another semi.”
The trooper fired his rifle, wounding the driver and bringing the chase to an end, The Arizona Republic reported.
The suspect, later identified as 35-year-old Shadrick Junell Crowder, was transported to a local hospital, and is expected to recover from his wounds, KTVK reported.
Investigators also recovered the package that one of the drivers had allegedly tossed into the median, according to The Arizona Republic.
It contained a “white powdery substance,” and has been sent in for identification, the DPS said.
The suspect crashed into one other commercial vehicle during the chase, resulting in minor injuries, The Arizona Republic reported.
None of the troopers involved in the incident were injured, according to KTVK.
Crowder faces multiple charges, including conspiracy, aggravated assault, endangerment, unlawful flight, transportation of narcotic drugs for sale, possession of narcotic drugs for sale, possession of narcotic drugs, and attempted first-degree murder, KTVK reported.
According to investigators, Crowder has an extensive, multi-state criminal history for weapons violations, violent crimes, and drug-related charges, The Arizona Republic reported.
The second driver has been identified as 55-year-old Robert Allen Owens, according to KTVK.
Owens was arrested on charges of transportation of narcotic drugs for sale, possession of narcotic drugs for sale, and possession of narcotic drugs.