A wanted fugitive in Utah led police on an epic chase last week that ended when the fugitive ran into a SWAT team and multiple K-9 units doing exercises. The story’s ending is so unlikely that it would seem unbelievable if it happened in a movie, but this is another case of truth being stranger than fiction.
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Derreke Nelson, 39, was trying to elude Provo Police parole officers when he was apprehended Thursday. Maria Peterson, Public Information Officer, with the Utah Department of Corrections, says Nelson was wanted by Adult Probation and Parole for failing to appear for a scheduled check-in on February 22, 2017.
Nelson had been successfully alluding officers ever since. The last time anyone had seen him was back in January. When he failed to show up for his scheduled meeting, a warrant was issued for his arrest. This was just the latest infraction for Nelson, who has a prior record of theft, forgery, and “possession of a forgery device.”
Yet he couldn’t fake his way out of this one. His chase ended when he ran into the SWAT training exercise.
“Of course, it helps when fugitives run right into a crowd of 30 SWAT officers and three K9 units who just happen to be training in the area,” Provo police noted.
Provo police officers had spotted Nelson in a vehicle with two others and the chase commenced. When the vehicle was stopped, all three occupants fled on foot. Nelson’s path took him directly into the group of SWAT officers. 30 of them. And there were three separate K-9 units as well.
It must have been a fitting ending to the chase, and it appears that Nelson, recognizing the extraordinary circumstances he faced, decided he would comply with officers’ demands and surrendered without a fight.
The incident did stir up some controversy. It happened within a stone’s throw of an elementary school. New of the chase prompted the school to issue what they’re describing as a “soft lockdown.”
The sight of so many officers prompted some in the community to say that the police response was overkill, but the Provo officers are quick to point out that it was all a coincidence.
“The situation did not require a formal “call out” of the S.W.A.T. people,” they wrote in response to criticism on Facebook. “They just happened to be there training. The department is sensitive to the appearance of large numbers of tactical personnel managing incidents like this one. A S.W.A.T. call out is very carefully evaluated according to risk conditions before approval. This was not that. Sorry for any alarm you felt.”