No bail set for fugitive driver in high-speed chase

SALLADASBURG – As Millard S. Beatty III nearly ran over one Williamsport police officer during Wednesday night’s wild high-speed pursuit, another officer fired several shots at the motorist, who sped away before abandoning his car and disappearing into the woods for the night, state police alleged in court papers.

Several hours after this very intense drama occurred at Windy Ridge and Myers roads in Anthony Township, Beatty was apprehended by a U.S. Marshal and a county sheriff’s deputy about 12:15 p.m. Thursday.

Beatty, who is on state parole and has an arrest record dating back to when he was a juvenile, was caught “after a foot pursuit and a brief struggle” with the two officers, according to U.S. Marshal Martin J. Pane.

Beatty, 26, of the city, was taken into custody shortly after a member of the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force “spotted and positively identified the suspect as the man moved from a wooded area into a farm field off of Santschi Road,” Pane said.

Santschi Road is a dead-end road off Route 973, a few miles north of here, in Mifflin Township.

“The suspect is accused of hitting several police vehicles while eluding authorities,” Pane said, referring to the 20-mile-plus pursuit that began about 7 p.m. Wednesday in the 1000 block of West Fourth Street in the city and continued on numerous rural roads in townships north of the city.

Beatty allegedly drove a 1999 Volkswagen Jetta directly at city Patrolman Joshua Bell, “causing him to jump out of the way to avoid being run over,” state police Trooper Jeffrey Vilello wrote in court papers.

Bell, driving one cruiser, and city Patrolman Jonathan Deprenda in a second, were pursuing Beatty on dozens of roads after the man fled from them on West Fourth Street, Vilello said.

Beatty initially was stopped in the city by Deprenda for having “an obstructed license plate,” Vilello said. Bell responded to the vehicle stop to offer assistance.

However, things soon deteriorated during the stop because Beatty had no identification on him and also gave a false name, the trooper said.

It later was determined that Beatty’s driver’s license was suspended. The officers told the driver that in order to determine his true identity, they would have to take him to police headquarters to get fingerprinted, Vilello said. When they ordered the man out of the car, he sped off.

As the pursuit continued for many miles on numerous roads, other police departments became involved.

Soon after the pursuit entered Anthony Township, “Beatty lost control of his car at Windy Ridge and Myers roads, striking a tree and becoming stuck (momentarily) on an embankment,” Vilello said.

Windy Ridge Road is a very narrow, gravel road, Vilello said.

“Bell stopped his cruiser, blocking the eastbound lane of the road and Beatty’s escape route. Bell exited the cruiser and approached the front passenger side door to Beatty’s car,” Vilello said.

“Beatty revved the engine and tried to free the vehicle” as the officer was approaching,” the trooper said.

As the officer was getting closer, Beatty managed to “free the vehicle from the embankment. Beatty then drove the car at Bell, who, fearing for his life, jumped out of the way to avoid getting hit,” Vilello said.

The Jetta also struck the driver’s door of Bell’s vehicle.

Seeing his fellow officer’s life in danger, Deprenda “fired multiple rounds at Beatty” as he sped away about 7:20 p.m. The Jetta was found abandoned 10 minutes later, about two miles north on Water Company Road.

Beatty has been charged with aggravated and simple assault, fleeing police, recklessly endangering, false identification to law enforcement and numerous traffic violations.

At his arraignment before District Judge James Carn, there was plenty of security in the hearing room, including three state troopers, a sheriff’s deputy, a U.S. Marshal and a constable.

Beatty’s wife and parents attended the proceedings. His father told the judge that his son suffered with a bipolar condition but was not under any doctor’s care

Due to the severity of the charges and Beatty’s alleged actions, Carn said he was ordering the man to the Lycoming County Prison without setting any bail.

As he was being led away, Beatty admitted that he battled with being bipolar, saying he couldn’t get the medication that he needed to treat the condition.