13-mile chase ends in swamp

Princeton Police and Mille Lacs County authorities have a man in custody after a high-speed chase in the early morning hours of Sunday, April 29.

But for a day or so, they didn’t know exactly who it was they had in custody.

The man identified himself to police as 25-year-old Jason Lee Walker. But that was not believed to be his real identity, Princeton Police Chief Brian Payne said. Among the many charges the man is facing following the incident is providing a false name to a police officer.

This much is known, however. The jailed man showed a disregard for the safety of others when he took police officers and sheriff’s deputies on a 13-mile chase in a stolen car at speeds up to 110 miles per hour.

The incident began at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday when the man’s vehicle was pulled over on Third Street North near Rum River Drive where HyTech Automotive has its business.

It was a routine traffic stop, Payne said, initiated after an officer observed him fail to stop at a stop sign on Rum River Drive and Fifth Avenue. The vehicle also came to a complete stop in the middle of the roundabout, according to a complaint filed in Mille Lacs County District Court.

“The man seemed cooperative,” Payne said.

Or at least, at first.

As the officer approached the vehicle, the man exited the car and began walking towards the squad car. He was warned to get back in the vehicle. He did so, but took off from the scene. The man went west on Third Street, driving about 45 miles per hour through the city. He failed to stop for a couple stop signs, Payne said.

The vehicle made its way to Highway 95, at which time it took off at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, Payne said. At one point, the vehicle was travelling westbound in the eastbound lane of Highway 95 at 110 miles per hour.

The vehicle continued to travel on Highway 95 at high rates of speed until it reached County Road 7, where it took a right turn towards the north. The vehicle approached a “T” intersection at the intersection of County 7 and 80th Street north of Estes Brook. It’s there that the driver lost control of the vehicle and put it about 150 feet into a ditch.

“He then fled on foot into a swamp,” Payne said.

Several officers pursued the man, a criminal complaint states. They ultimately found him sitting by a tree and took him into custody, but he was no longer wearing shoes or pants.

The man told arresting officers that his name was Jason Lee Walker, but that came after giving officers several false names, the complaint states. Officers didn’t believe Jason Lee Walker was his correct name either.

The vehicle was towed to the Princeton Police station and impounded. An inventory of the vehicle revealed a scooter reported stolen out of Minneapolis, Payne said.

Also found in the vehicle was purse containing hypodermic needles, checkbooks, social security cards, and credit cards bearing the names of females, the criminal complaint states. There was also a piece of paper in the vehicle that suggested someone was practicing signing someone’s signature.

Jason Lee Walker is what Princeton booked him in under as he gave that name, Mille Lacs County Sheriff Brent Lindgren said. However, the sheriff’s department has compared bookings photographs from the St Louis County Sheriff’s Department and tattoos to determine they match a Jason Ronald Stauffer. Stauffer was arraigned Tuesday but was still refusing booking and fingerprinting at that time.

The man has been charged with two counts of fleeing a police officer, possession of a stolen vehicle, providing a false name to an officer, and some traffic violations, including speeding.