Thieves take police car on wild drive in Bethel

Posted: Thursday, December 10, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Talk about a wild drive: barreling a stolen police car along a frozen river in western Alaska, while firing rounds from an officer's semi-automatic rifle.

Police in the town of Bethel have arrested a 24-year-old local man after the vehicle was found abandoned near surrounding villages.

Charles Cheney Jr. is charged with vehicle theft and Bethel Police Chief Larry Elarton says other charges are pending against Cheney and three others.

The 1998 Ford Expedition was stolen Tuesday evening while Officer Jerry Herrod spent a few minutes inside a home working on an unrelated case. He left the car running because of the cold night, but did not know if he left it unlocked.

Elarton says a public safety officer at the village of Napaskiak saw the patrol vehicle on the river, spinning in circles at one point. He also heard rapid gunfire and sirens blaring.

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