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Suspect arrested after bizarre chase that involved police car fire

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BATON ROUGE - Police and firefighters had to deal with a bizarre crime spree Monday that included a police cruiser being burned and ended with a man in custody.

An officer was involved in the pursuit of a suspect when, after exiting the cruiser to chase the individual, the police car caught on fire. Video of the fire was recorded by WBRZ viewer Brett Hail. It showed the car quickly being engulfed in flames.

Police believe the older-model cruiser and the officer driving it, intentionally left the roadway around Florida Boulevard and North Lobdell as a man tried to evade authorities. The officer parked the car in grass and chased the man.

As the car sat in dry, tall grass, firefighters believe the hot exhaust sparked a fire under the automobile. The grass around the car quickly caught on fire and eventually burned the car, too.

A police spokesperson said the chase and car fire are connected to a theft that happened earlier on Tom Drive. Police said 23-year-old Ronnie Jewitt was chased by police as he drove a vehicle and eventually ditched his ride in the area where the police car caught on fire.  Jewitt tried to runaway but carjacked someone.

The ordeal ended at Mohican and 38th, where a witness said the suspect tried to continue his from the law.

"He took off at the corner and didn't stop for nothing," said the eyewitness who did not want to be identified.  "When he got down this way, he jumped out of the car and took off running."

He added, the suspect was in such a rush, the man did not put the car in the park gear position and left the vehicle running.

Eventually, authorities were able to bring Jewitt into custody after setting up a perimeter on Lynn Street, Mohican Street and North 38th Street.  Jewitt now faces a list of charges including felony theft, resisting an officer and carjacking.

The situation comes days after the state warned about the potential for dry grass to catch fire quickly. 

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Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz

 

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