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Unlucky sighting prompts police chase, arrest

Snowy shoe prints lead officers to suspect hiding in shed

Posted: November 26, 2013 - 1:02am

A man wanted on an outstanding warrant caught an unlucky break on Saturday when he drove past the Juneau police station, and a patrol officer waiting at a stop sign recognized him on sight.

The sighting prompted a brief vehicle and foot chase through the Lemon Creek area, and the man was eventually arrested and lodged at the jail, police said.

Lt. David Campbell, a Juneau Police Department spokesman, said the patrol officer had just left the police station on Alaway Avenue and was waiting to turn onto Glacier Highway when he spotted 33-year-old William Buck Ratliff driving past in a Toyota Camry.

Patrol officers were briefed earlier that Ratliff had a no-bail arrest warrant out for failing to appear in court on a criminal mischief charge.

The patrol officer called JPD dispatchers to check if the warrant was still out as he followed the Camry onto Davis Avenue. The dispatchers confirmed it was, and they also confirmed Ratliff was the Camry’s registered owner.

Campbell said the responding officer turned on his patrol car’s lights and sirens as he pursued the speeding Camry down Davis Avenue and onto Churchill Way.

Police said the Camry was doing 40 miles per hour in a 30-miles-per-hour zone and nearly struck a skiff that was stuck in a snow drift on Davis Avenue. The vehicle came to a stop halfway down Churchill Way, and Ratliff jumped out of the car and ran on foot, Campbell said.

The officer — some 60 yards away, according to Campbell — yelled at Ratliff to stop, but he got away by jumping over a fence and running through several yards.

Joined by two other responding officers at the scene, police were able to catch Ratliff by tracking his shoe prints through the snow. They found him hiding in a shed.

“This time of the year is great for that,” Campbell said, noting it’s not the first time the snow has led them directly to a subject.

Campbell said Ratliff surrendered at that point and was taken to Lemon Creek Correctional Center without further incident. He was additionally charged with failing to stop at the direction of a police office, a felony offense, Campbell said.

The entire incident took place within 15 minutes — the patrol officer first sighted Ratliff at 12:20 p.m., and the arrest was made at 12:35 p.m.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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