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Police stop suspected car thief with guns drawn near High School Road
A man and woman were ordered from their car at gunpoint by police in the parking lot of the Ace Hardware store on High School Road just before 3 p.m. Tuesday.
The dramatic incident started aboard the 2:05 p.m. ferry from Seattle, after a captain with the Washington State Patrol who was on his way home from work learned that a stolen car was aboard the ferry.
The trooper followed the stolen 2006 Dodge Charger off the ferry in his unmarked vehicle and called for backup. With two cars from the Bainbridge Island Police Department joining the state trooper as he followed the Dodge north on the highway, the driver was pulled over just as he approached the Highway 305/High School Road intersection.
The car had been reported stolen to the Lacey Police Department, and Bainbridge Police Officer Ben Sias said officers conducted a "high risk stop" just after the driver pulled into the parking lot.
With weapons drawn, two Bainbridge officers and the state trooper told the driver and a passenger to get out of the car.
The pair were ordered to the ground, and they were quickly frisked and placed into the back of two Bainbridge patrol cars.
The pair were read their Miranda rights and agreed to talk to police.
"They were quite cooperative," Sias said.
From there, the story became a bit murky.
Sias said the man told police that he bought and sold cars, and had purchased the vehicle for $4,700 from a longtime friend who needed money to pay lawyer fees due to a recent release from prison.
Though reported as stolen, police discovered the driver had registered the vehicle in his name. He also repeatedly told officers that he had purchased tabs for the vehicle.
"I paid money for this car," he told officers.
"I'm just trying to get things straightened out. And I paid for the tabs," he added.
The incident drew a large police response. The two Bainbridge police units and the State Patrol officer at the scene were soon joined by two other detectives in unmarked vehicles, an unmarked vehicle with officers from the Suquamish Police Department, and two other State Patrol units.
Passers-by also slowed to gawk at the assemblage of police cars.
"Trouble in paradise!" called out a student as he walked past on the sidewalk.
"Did his tabs expire?" shouted a man in a passing convertible.
After questioning, officers released the driver, who was from Kent, and a woman passenger, who said she was from Bothell.
"They were somewhat distant from the actual stealing of the car," Sias said.
"It sounded like it was a sneaky paperwork deal," Sias added.
Before he left, the driver walked over to the Dodge and took photos of the license plate and vehicle identification tag near the front windshield.
The Dodge was impounded and towed to Poulsbo.