JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville authorities believe an Arkansas man who led authorities on an extended vehicle chase early Thursday might have been planning to shoot the officer pursuing him.
Police found a Colt .45 Caliber Automatic, M1911A1 pistol laying on the passenger’s seat, a "Scream"-style mask (patterned after a series of American slasher movies) underneath the driver's seat, and a spent rifle casing on his floorboard, reports show.
There was also a large buck knife in his trunk.
Suspect Joshua McGhee, 37, of Arkansas seemed to be going out of his way to bait Jacksonville Police Officer Brandon Dobbs, stopping his car three times and resuming the chase twice while being pursued by him. During his final stop he flipped Dobbs off with both hands.
During two of these stops McGhee acted as if he were going to climb out – going as far as to open his car door. But when the officer tried to exit his police car to approach the man, McGhee slammed his door and drove away, wheels screeching. Officer Dobbs continued the pursuit each time.
Backup arrived for Officer Dobbs' third stop of McGhee and helped drag the suspect out of the vehicle.
The strangeness of events brought Jacksonville Police Det. Sgt. Daniel Franklin to the conclusion the suspect had been planning to shoot Dobbs.
"I really think he was trying to work up the nerve," the sergeant said later Thursday morning. "He had a handgun laying on the passenger seat when the commands were being given. This could have had a decidedly different outcome.
Sgt. Franklin said in terms of the potential danger, “This is probably one of the worst pursuits we have had in awhile.”
He said it is common for a vehicle to elude officers until a final stopping point but this suspect kept running away.