The man who led two agencies on a police chase last month has been identified and is now facing a felony charge.
The Log Cabin Democrat reported last month that Conway officers were led on a chase Jan. 22 beginning in a gas station parking lot on East German Lane that eventually ended when both Conway Police Department officers and Faulkner County Sheriff's Office deputies lost sight of the suspect vehicle on Beryl Road.
A probable cause affidavit submitted by detective Thomas "Bob" Cole reveals the suspect was identified by comparing surveillance footage to a past mug shot and also by questioning the suspect's girlfriend.
According to an incident report, Conway officers first spotted the suspect at the VP Racing Fuels station on East German Lane, noting he had expired tags shortly after 5 p.m. Jan. 22.
After noticing the expired tags and also noting there have been “multiple drug arrests” at the gas station, officer Joseph P. Bolling said he and officer Todd Wesbecher planned to pull the Expedition over after it left the gas station, according to the report. When police attempted to pull over the white 2000 Ford Expedition, the vehicle fled, leading both CPD and FCSO on a chase through rural Faulkner County.
“As we attempted to follow the vehicle onto East German, it turned back into the parking lot and traveled toward Sutherland Road,” Bolling wrote in his report. “When the driver saw me following him, he turned back around and re-entered the parking lot a second time. The driver pulled up next to my unit, roll down his window and yelled, ‘Why are y’all messin with me.’”
After yelling at the officers, the report states the suspect ignored the fact that officers had turned on their blue lights, and fled the parking lot.
“The Expedition exited the parking lot, making a right turn onto East German Lane, before turning left down the right turn lane of Hwy 286 (the wrong way),” the report states. “I saw that the intersection of East German and Dave Ward [Drive] was full of vehicles. Not wanting to travel through a red light into traffic, I drove over the gore, separating the right turn lane and the Westbound lane of 286.”
The Conway officers continued chasing the suspect along Highway 286, noting each time the suspect illegally passed other motorists.
At one point, a motorist had to veer off the road “to allow him to pass without hitting a white Chevrolet truck traveling in the west bound lane.”
As the pursuit made its way to Tower Road, the sheriff’s office joined the pursuit in an attempt to catch up to the suspect.
The suspect vehicle reportedly passed vehicles through blind curves and later drove off into rough, muddy terrain on Beryl Road when officers lost sight of it.
“We came to the end of the gravel on Beryl Road at two signs marked ‘Dead End,’” the report states. “The Expedition went around these signs and continued on an extremely rough, unpaved dirt road. At this point, the Faulkner County deputy unit became stuck and was unable to connote the pursuit.”
Conway officers tried to circle around separate streets, but were unable to catch up to the suspect.
Wesbecher learned soon after the chase that a local woman had been stopped in the suspect vehicle a few months prior to the chase. According to the affidavit, the woman lives on Stone Mountain Road, which is "not far from where the pursuit terminated."
Following the pursuit, officers went back to the gas station and began reviewing surveillance footage to identify the man who fled.
"They were able to see footage from inside the gas station, and the subject in that footage matched a booking photograph of Gary Harper that officer Wesbecher obtained from Faulkner County deputies," the affidavit reads in part.
On Friday, the 46-year-old Vilonia man was formally charged with fleeing in a vehicle causing danger, a Class D felony, and failure to pay registration, an unclassified misdemeanor.