UPDATED: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 1:06pm
Waco, Tx — A McLennan County man was sentenced to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to evading arrest on Monday.
Tommie Saulters, 37, was arrested in January this year after leading several law enforcement agencies on a high speed chase for nearly an hour one afternoon throughout several cities. He was originally wanted for a state parole violation on a charge for possession of a controlled substance, which was methamphetamine. Saulters also had a warrant issued from Waco Police Department for theft.
On January 10, a Waco police officer who was assigned to the US Marshal’s Taskforce attempted to conduct fugitive apprehension to locate Saulters, who was listed as a parole offender.
“We knew he was a violent offender. He was known to carry firearms in the past and use firearms,” said Waco Police Sergeant Patrick Swanton.
Saulters was located in his Nissan Versa around 3:45 p.m. on South Valley Mills Drive, near Memorial Drive and Interstate 35. Officers attempted to stop the vehicle by surrounding him with other vehicles, but Saulters reportedly turned into a retail shopping center before attempting to run a US Marshal’s vehicle off the road and starting the high-speed chase.
“He intentionally drove at a police officer’s vehicle,” said Swanton.
"Shortly after the chase began, he attempted to run one of our deputy US Marshals off the road on Valley Mills Drive. And, he was also making threatening gestures out the window, as if he was pointing a gun,” said Deputy US Marshal Kevin Scott.
The officer was able to escape without injury. Saulters then continued evading arrest, leading officers on a chase through Beverly Hills, through the traffic circle in Waco, down through Robinson, up to Highway 6 in China Springs, and finally back to Waco. About 50 law enforcement vehicles were used in the search; they came from Waco Police Department, DPS, McLennan County Sheriff’s Office, and the US Marshal’s Office.
“They definitely played a big role,” said Scott.
DPS troopers and sheriff’s deputies attempted to throw out spikes on the roadway several times to stop Saulters, Scott said. During the pursuit, officials say Saulters threatened the male and female passengers inside of his car. Swanton says he called police dispatch, saying he was going to kill everyone in the car. He also reportedly said he was not going back to jail and that he would not be taken back alive.
A DPS trooper was finally able to stop Saulters about 40 minutes after the chase began by stopping the patrol vehicle in front of Saulters in the 2100 block of Park Lake, near the North 21st-A Street intersection. Saulters allegedly rammed into the car, causing his to be disabled.
Saulters was then arrested without further incident. He was at that point charged with parole violation, burglary, aggravated assault on a police officer, felony evading, and resisting arrest.
In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors dropped other felony charges against Saulters.