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Wild car chase, police shooting ends with 4 felony charges against driver

From the June crime report: series

TWIN FALLS — A 28-year-old man is in jail on a $1 million bond after police say he led law enforcement on a high-speed chase through the county last week, eventually crashing a stolen vehicle.

During the chase, a Twin Falls County sheriff’s deputy forced the driver off the road south of Twin Falls. When approached, the driver tried to run down the deputy, who shot at him to avoid being hit, a court affidavit says.

Dispatchers received 911 calls just after 1 p.m. June 23 reporting an eastbound black truck with green lettering driving recklessly at high speeds on U.S. Highway 30 between Filer and Twin Falls. Minutes later, dispatchers received a call reporting the theft of a black 2020 Dodge Ram 3500 from a gas station in Filer, the affidavit says.

The Dodge Ram was next seen going east on Pole Line Road, where a deputy tried to stop the driver. The driver fled at speeds up to 110 mph, striking another vehicle just west of the Twin Falls city limits. At that point, the county turned the pursuit over to Twin Falls police, who were positioned throughout the city, reports say.

The Dodge continued at high speeds through town, running stop signs and jumping curbs.

A police officer monitoring an intersection saw the Dodge jump a curb at Don Aslett’s Cleaning Center on Washington Street North. The officer pulled into the parking lot in an attempt to block the Dodge, striking the side of the vehicle. The Dodge again jumped the curb, striking a large rock. The damaged Dodge continued south on Washington.

About an hour after the Dodge was stolen from Filer, dispatchers received a 911 call reporting the theft of a gray 2013 Ford Expedition near the Twin Falls airport, reports say. A deputy found the vehicle traveling west on 3300 North and performed a maneuver to stop the stolen Expedition, which came to rest in the yard of a residence at 3300 N. 2700 E.

Decatur police vehicles are seen in pursuit of a car that was traveling on Grand Avenue, then turning north onto Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Decatur. Sparks flew from the wheels of the car where the tires had worn down.

The driver accelerated toward the deputy when he approached the Expedition, court records say. The deputy fired his pistol at the driver, but the driver escaped as he drove south in the borrow pit along 2700 East. The driver again tried to ram the deputy’s vehicle at 2800 East and 3200 North.

The deputy pursued the Expedition south on 3000 East (Blue Lakes Boulevard South) for several miles until the driver rolled the vehicle when he attempted to negotiate a curve at a high rate of speed.

The deputy took Austin Jay Welch into custody and found a small zip-top bag of methamphetamine in his wallet, the reports says. Welch was taken to St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center for treatment of his injuries before he was jailed.

Welch was charged with two felony counts of grand theft, one felony count of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, one felony count of aggravated battery on a police officer, and one felony count of possession of a controlled substance.

A preliminary hearing is set for July 9.

The Critical Incident Task Force investigated the case.

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