Heads-up police work by PCPD, Sheriff’s Dept. leads to high-speed pursuit, standoff with armed escaped convicts
The daily job of a police officer is anything but ordinary.
But last Friday morning was fairly uneventful for Platte City Police Department Sgt. Jim Tharp. Until he spotted the dark-colored GMC pickup truck pulling out of the Platte City McDonald’s, that is.
At that point Tharp’s day began to move pretty fast.
And it didn’t stop until two escaped inmates from the Lansing, Kan. Correctional Facility surrendered to law enforcement officials about six hours later at a private rural residence about 20 miles away on Z Highway east of Edgerton.
On Saturday, at a press conference held by Platte County Sheriff Mark Owen and Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd at the Platte County Resource Center near Tiffany Springs, the two inmates, Allen M. Hurst, 31, and Scott A. Gilbert, 49, were each charged with 12 felonies. The charges, including firing at law enforcement officers and attempted kidnapping, stemmed from a high-speed pursuit and ensuing standoff that all began when Tharp spotted the two escaped inmates in a truck reported stolen a few minutes before.
“Because of the heroic actions of many fine law enforcement officers, these two prison escapees were taken into custody without anyone being seriously injured or killed,” Owen said. “These officers refused to yield in the face of danger, even after the defendants fired multiple gunshots at them.”
According to Tharp, his Friday morning had mostly involved “shadowing” new PCPD officer Mike Burgoyne on his first day on his own behind the wheel of a patrol car. Tharp said he already provided support for Burgoyne on a few routine traffic stops when he heard a call dispatched over his radio alerting him of a pickup truck reported stolen in Lansing earlier that morning. A second report said the vehicle had been tracked via a GPS device to the area of Highway 92 and Running Horse Road in Platte City. Tharp said he turned onto Prairie View Road to check out the Quik Trip parking lot, turned around and saw a truck fitting the description pulling out of the McDonald’s and turning towards the Highway 92 intersection.
“It matched the description of tailgate damage and a red tool box, so I pulled in behind it,” Tharp said. A few minutes later, while both vehicles waited at the stoplight, Tharp received word that the truck may be connected to the escape of three inmates from the Lansing Correctional Facility and also received confirmation of the stolen truck’s license plate. Tharp also said he saw Platte County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Macey in his patrol car at the other side of the intersection and communicated with him.
“I waited for them to get through the stoplight, then I hit my lights and siren,” Tharp said.
Tharp said he thought the truck might turn onto southbound Interstate 29, but it swerved around a vehicle, went across the overpass, ran a red light at the next intersection and entered the I-29 northbound on-ramp and onto I-29. Tharp said he then began to give chase, with Macey and Burgoyne also in pursuit behind him. Eventually two other Sheriff’s deputies joined in the chase.
Tharp said in his pursuit, near the HH Highway exit on I-29, he saw a barrel of a rifle in the truck and then saw what he thought were empty shotgun shell boxes thrown out the window of the truck. Then he said the passenger of the vehicle leaned out the window and pointed the barrel of the gun at him.
“I wasn’t sure if he fired at me then or not, because I didn’t hear anything hit my vehicle,” he said.
But Tharp said the suspects definitely fired at him a few miles later near the North American Avenue overpass on I-29.
“I heard the pellets hitting my vehicle and I got out of the way and positioned my vehicle behind them so they would not have a clear shot at me,” he said.
During the pursuit, which the Sheriff’s Department said exceeded 90 miles per hour at times, the passenger of the stolen vehicle allegedly fired the shotgun multiple times and also struck the vehicles of the three Sheriff’s deputies in pursuit. The chase continued to the Route E exit, east on E and north on Highway B, where the passenger was seen reloading before firing more shots at the law enforcement officers.
Shortly before the chase turned onto B, Tharp said the Sheriff’s deputies took the two lead positions in the pursuit.