PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (May 17, 2011) — Saint Robert police have released the dash camera footage from a patrol car whose driver pursued Cody Willcoxson, 31, from Fort Leonard Wood to Rolla.
A police chase enters I-44 at Exit 161 from St. Robert.
The driver, a junior officer, kept up the Thursday morning chase after Chief Curtis Curenton’s car was struck by bullets from an AK-47 fired by Willcoxson during the high speed pursuit on Interstate 44 which at times reached 120 mph. The footage has sounds of racing engines and squealing tires, as well as showing evasive maneuvers by officers as they raced around semi trucks and other vehicles, and went onto the shoulder in an effort to get around slower traffic, culminating in a crash in Rolla.
That camera footage can be found here on YouTube at this link, posted by KY-3 television from Springfield.
The footage starts on Eastlawn Avenue as the officer maneuvered past traffic to get into position to chase Willcoxson’s grey Dodge Avenger — later identified as a silver Dodge Magnum — which was northbound on Missouri Avenue. Morning traffic on Missouri Avenue included a line of school buses, but the stoplight at the Missouri Avenue/Route 66 intersection was green and both Willcoxson and police were able to get around traffic as Willcoxson raced onto the Exit 161 eastbound on-ramp to reach Interstate 44.
According to St. Robert police reports, their chase began at 8:28 a.m. with three officers in pursuit. The military police called one minute later and advised they were terminating their chase because Willcoxson had left Fort Leonard Wood and civilian police had taken over the chase.
A fourth St. Robert officer joined the chase at 8:30 a.m.
One minute later, Curenton notified dispatchers that shots were being fired and state troopers were notified. By 8:33 a.m., the chase had reached the 167.2 mile marker and Curenton reported 12 shots had been fired, with another three at 8:34 a.m. as Curenton passed the 170.8 mile marker in Phelps County. Curenton reported his fuel tank was running on empty at 8:35 a.m. and by 8:38 a.m. reported that the gun being fired was an AK-47 assault rifle. The probable cause statement later filed by St. Robert police said Willcoxson had been firing at police from the driver’s side window, the moon roof, and out the back glass of his vehicle.
One St. Robert officer broke off the pursuit at 8:36 a.m. to return to the city, but remaining officers continued with speeds reaching 120 mph by 8:39 a.m., when the chase reached mile marker 180.
Phelps County deputies were notified of the situation and asked to deploy spike strips to stop Willcoxson’s car; they succeeded in deflating Willcoxson’s front left tire at 8:41 a.m. but he continued driving at speeds about 85 mph, Curenton said.
Willcoxson pulled over at Exit 184 but continued to shoot with rounds noted at 8:41 a.m. and 8:42 a.m. Willcoxson entered Rolla city traffic by 8:43 a.m. on Kingshighway, then going to Highway 7 and Pine Street, finally crashing at 8:46 a.m. on the Missouri University of Science and Technology campus.
The probable cause statement noted that Willcoxson tried to go through an intersection and crashed into a civilian vehicle shortly after entering Rolla city traffic, and eventually hit a barrier on a road not accessible to vehicles which caused Willcoxson to lose control, spin around and skid to a stop.
The patrol car footage ends shortly after the crash when Willcoxson jumped out of his car and ran toward a campus building. However, officers continued their chase with the Rolla SWAT team being called out at 9:02 a.m. to locate Willcoxson and several campus buildings as well as Phelps County Regional Medical Center being placed on lockdown. State troopers called for a helicopter from Franklin County at 9:04 a.m.
By 9:14 a.m., police reported that they had located Willcoxson in a wooded area behind the Great Wall Restaurant in Rolla, and police shut down the Rolla Plaza Park at 9:16 a.m. and St. Patrick’s Catholic Church at 9:17 a.m.; his AK-47 was found at 9:19 a.m. under a brown pickup truck.
State troopers called at 9:25 a.m. and asked if any St. Robert officers fired back at Willcoxson; dispatchers said no St. Robert officers returned fire because they were driving while Willcoxson was firing at them.
Efforts to stop Willcoxson in the wooded area were unsuccessful. By 9:28 a.m., police learned that he had kicked in the door and stolen the keys to a victim’s car, a white Ford Taurus, and by 9:31 a.m. that car was seen by Pulaski County deputies headed towards Interstate 44 and Kingshighway.
St. Robert officers and other SWAT teams from the area set up blockages in Pulaski County by 9:36 a.m. since they’d heard Willcoxson might be headed back toward Pulaski County, but he never returned to the county.
A check of St. Robert patrol cars at 9:45 a.m. determined that Curenton’s car had been hit twice, according to the probable cause statement, and one other patrol car also had bullet holes. Most St. Robert officers returned to the city limits by 9:56 a.m.
Rolla police finally took Willcoxson into custody about 12:55 p.m., according to the probable cause statement; police blotters say that happened on Highway 63 south of Rolla.
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