Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Jace Lee Wissinger, 38, was booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility after leading authorities on a high-speed chase in a stolen Polaris Razor.
By Jon Johnson
“They caught me. I’m going back to prison.” – Jace Lee Wissinger
THATCHER – Those were the prophetic words allegedly uttered by suspect Jace Lee Wissinger after being tackled by a Thatcher officer at the end of a police chase. In the meantime, however, he was booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility on charges of theft of means of transportation, unlawful flight from law enforcement, theft, and driving on a suspended license.
Wissinger, 38, led authorities on a high-speed chase early Thursday morning after allegedly stealing a black Polaris Razor from in front of the Resident Towers dormitory at Eastern Arizona College. Wissinger ended up crashing the Razor into a pit on Marshall Lane that was full of water due to the rain earlier Wednesday night.
Wissinger previously served time for theft of means of transportation and was released from prison Feb. 2. He has an extensive criminal record and has been found guilty of theft of means of transportation three times.
According to a Graham County Sheriff’s Office report, the theft was reported at about 3:31 a.m. About 20 minutes later, a Sheriff’s deputy was patrolling southbound on Reay Lane when he noticed a northbound UTV. The deputy turned around and caught up to the UTV at the intersection of Reay Lane and U.S. Highway 70 due to a red light and noticed it was a Polaris Razor. Before he could check the license plate, however, the Razor accelerated quickly eastbound on U.S. Highway 70.
The deputy pursued the Razor, which turned northbound onto Eighth Avenue then westbound onto First Street, where it lost control and spun out facing east. The deputy then pulled up facing the Razor and could see the driver was masked with a bandanna and was wearing sunglasses.
The driver, later identified as Wissinger, reversed direction and ultimately headed westbound on First Street at a high rate of speed and then turned northbound back onto Reay Lane.
The deputy then followed the Razor on Reay Lane at speeds up to 85 mph, according to his report. As the Razor approached Marshall Lane, it slowed and turned eastbound onto the dirt road. Between where Marshall Lane curves to the right and a farm field heads to the left, a pit had been dug by a front-end loader. The Razor drove right into the pit, which had filled up with water from the rain and got stuck.
At that time, the deputy and a Thatcher officer exited their vehicles. The deputy drew his handgun, while the officer armed himself with a TASER and ordered the suspect out of the Razor.
Wissinger then fled on foot as the officer’s TASER attempt missed. Both the officer and the deputy then chased Wissinger, and the officer tackled him to the ground. He was then taken into custody without further incident.
When searched, authorities located two cell phones on Wissinger, and one of them started to ring while he was in custody. The deputy answered it at Wissinger’s request, and a man asked Wissinger where he was. Wissinger allegedly responded, “They caught me. I’m going back to prison.” And the deputy then hung up the phone.
Wissinger was then booked into the jail, and the Razor was recovered from the scene.