Thursday, June 07, 2018

An Army National Guard officer accused of stealing an armored personnel carrier from a Virginia base said he was told to take it into town as test local police reaction

1st Lt. Joshua Philip Yabut, 29, of Richmond, was charged with eluding police and unauthorized use of a vehicle, the Virginia National Guard said in a news release, he is accused of leading police on a more than 60-mile chase while driving under the influence of drugs, police said Wednesday.

Police pursued the M577 armored personnel carrier along Route 460 and Interstate 95 before the chase ended with the driver's arrest in downtown Richmond.

Just before hitting the road, Yabut posted a selfie, flashing the Wu Tang Clan sign. He also posted video from inside the M577 while it was moving. Based on the time it was posted, it was while he was driving off Fort Pickett.

Police said an investigation is ongoing and declined to comment on a motive for stealing the vehicle, but said Yabut was under the influence of drugs when he was arrested.

In a Wednesday evening phone call from Virginia’s Central State Hospital, Yabut told The Associated Press he was authorized to take the vehicle on a pre-planned route as part of a training exercise to gauge the police response. Yabut said his brigade commander, who he declined to name, told him to take the vehicle.

The National Guard denied that anyone had the idea to test the local police.

The vehicle, which drives on tracks like a tank, was stolen Tuesday evening from Fort Pickett in Blackstone. Police chased it for about two hours at speeds as high as 40 mph before the driver stopped and surrendered near Richmond City Hall, Virginia State Police said.

The Guard said Yabut is a first lieutenant assigned as company commander of the 276th Engineer Battalion and has more than 11 years of service. He deployed to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009 with the Illinois National Guard.

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