WEST- Police in West arrested a burglary suspect they say tried to hit an officer with his car on Tuesday after looting a restaurant that is being renovated.
Walter Jean Mellgren III, 34, is in McLennan County Jail for burglary of a building, evading arrest and aggravated assault on a police officer.
Michael Elliott was checking on the new location for his employer's restaurant Slovacek's Sausage around 4:45 p.m., when he spotted two burglars who had forced their way through a back door and were stealing from the building.
"I walked into the front door and saw two guys staring at me, so I decided not to be here, and then I called the cops," Elliott said, pointing across the property to a nearby hotel where he made the call.
West Police Officer Chris Chadwick arrived in just minutes and parked in front of the old KD's Smokehouse at 214 Melody Dr. He peered inside the building, saw one man loading his car with stolen items and went around to the back of the building to confront him.
"Guy ran out the back door of the business, got into the car, and [the officer] of course pulled his gun, hollered for him to stop. 'Police!'" Chief Lawhorn said.
But Chief Lawhorn said Mellgren didn't listen; he stepped on the gas and sped at the officer.
"He feared for his life. He barely jumped out of the way just in time to keep from getting hit," Chief Lawhorn said of the officer who has been on the force for nearly a year.
Officer Chadwick fired four shots to disable Mellgren's car. He hit one front tire and flattened it, but Mellgren got away. Lawhorn said Mellgren sped around the building, where the officer's car was still located, then down the road and through an underpass, before the officer could get into his own car and follow.
Officer Chadwick never saw the second suspect, and he wasn't able to see the license plate because it was mounted on the trunk, which was still open.
The restaurant chain lost equipment and furniture totaling at least $2,000, but Elliott and Chief Lawhorn agreed the situation could have been much worse.
"I'm not real sure what I was thinking. It was all running so fast," said Elliott, who watched the whole incident. "But I wasn't scared. I guess I was just, I mean, more scared for the cop."
"That was the first question out of everybody's mouth here in town. 'Is he ok? Is he ok? Did anyone get hurt?'" Chief Lawhorn said. "And I was proud to say nobody got hurt."
Residents called police with tips about the getaway car. Chief Lawhorn said part of the tire fell off and the car was leaking oil, easily raising residents' suspicions.
Investigators located Mellgren's car on Wednesday, and arrested him on Thursday.
An arrest warrant affidavit said Mellgren signed a written confession in which he said he sped away from the scene because he was afraid of being arrested. Mellgren already has a criminal record, including evading arrest in 1996, aggravated assault in 2004 and a drug possession felony in 2004.
Saturday, May 25 2013 12:04 AM EDT2013-05-25 04:04:15 GMT
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