Suspect in Love Field runway chase wanted for several felonies

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by Team Reports

WFAA

Posted on August 19, 2010 at 2:51 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 20 at 10:25 AM

DALLAS - A nearly hour long police chase with a carjacking-robbery suspect ended Thursday afternoon on an active runway at Dallas Love Field.

Police were forced to crash a squad car into a stolen truck to stop the fleeing suspect, who entered by crashing through a chain-link gate and onto a runway with nine Southwest Airlines planes on the tarmac.

Police said the latest crime they believe 46-year-old Michael Laurence Browne committed was the snatching of a purse from a 77-year-old woman Thursday. Authorities said he was seen in the afternoon acting suspiciously on Arapaho Road in North Dallas. When authorities ran the plate of the truck he was driving, they discovered it was from a stolen vehicle in a Fort Worth carjacking. That was when they said he took off.

Maria Santiago said Browne carjacked the truck from her Wednesday. She said he held a knife to her after he came up from behind as she opened the door of the truck to get inside. She gave him the keys, and he took off.

Dallas police responds or chases if a violent felony is suspected. Authorities said when they attempted to stop Browne they saw him reaching under the seat of the stolen truck, possibly for a weapon, before he began to flee.

"This individual was suspected in several violent felony offenses," said Deputy Chief Jesse Reyes, Dallas Police Department. "And for officer safety, they were trying to get into a position to do a felony traffic stop."

From Preston Road, Browne led police on a chase throughout the Dallas area, driving on and off Central Expressway. The pursuit took police to Greenville Avenue, back onto Central Expressway and into the downtown area.

Heavy traffic meant the speed of the chase was only about 40 mph at certain points. While on Mockingbird Lane, the driver in the stolen truck rammed into a car to push it out of the way. Throughout most of the chase, the truck had only three working tires, with the rear-passenger tire completely gone and riding on the metal wheel.

Eventually, the suspect headed toward the airport. While authorities were prepared to throw out a spike strip, the driver swerved to the left, crashed through the gate and onto the runway. As Browne's car began to slow after driving off the runway and onto some grass, a squad car slammed the truck. Officers swarmed the truck and took the shirtless driver into custody.

Browne complained of a medical problem after his arrest and he was taken to Parkland Hospital. He was released Thursday evening and taken to the police department for further questioning.

Operations on both major runways were stopped from about 3:20 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen. One arriving flight was held up, and all departures were held on the ground until the chase was over. Bergen didn't have a count of exactly how many flights were affected.

While Dallas police are not allowed to chase misdemeanor or non-violent crime cases. In this case, police said they believed Browne was a violent felony suspect.

Officers are also not allowed to use "PIT maneuvers," such as ramming a suspect's vehicle. The reason for this is that it could lead to injuries of the officer or others. But, since the vehicle entered a tarmac, authorities opted to halt the stolen truck by hitting it with the squad car.

Since Dallas police arrested Browne on federal property, the FBI likely will send the police report to the U.S. Attorney's office and let federal prosecutors decide how to proceed, said FBI spokesman Mark White.

"We're all kind of looking at it trying to figure out just exactly what is happening here," White said.

Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, chairman of the City Council Public Safety Committee, said he was concerned that the subject of an apparently routine police chase was able to get onto airport grounds so easily.

"I think that the whole game changed when he ended up on the runways and threatened multiple lives," Caraway said. "I believe it means security is something we have to take a look at that airport. I will definitely be bringing that to the committee ... and we will post something immediately on our agenda."

WFAA's Gary Reaves and Rebecca Lopez, WFAA.com's Marjorie Owens and the Associated Press contributed to this report

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