Sirens

CASA GRANDE — The FBI is heading the investigation into a high-speed chase that went through Casa Grande Monday afternoon.

Adrian Stewart, 39, was arrested after he allegedly fled from U.S. Border Patrol agents with two men in his trunk and fired shots at Border Patrol agents from Casa Grande during the pursuit, which places the FBI in charge of the investigation into what happened.

“The FBI is investigating an assault on a federal officer (Border Patrol), which occurred on (12/16/19). This is an ongoing investigation. No further information will be released at this time,” spokesperson Jill McCabe in the FBI Phoenix Field Office said Tuesday morning.

The chase began after an alleged human smuggler, who later turned out to be Stewart, sped away from an immigration checkpoint south of Casa Grande on Federal Route 15. Stewart was driving a silver 2014 Ford Taurus and he failed to yield to U.S. Border Patrol agents working the immigration checkpoint 20 miles south of Casa Grande on the Tohono O’odham Nation.

The high-speed chase went through downtown Casa Grande on Monday afternoon before ending on Interstate 10 on the Gila River Indian Community. Two people were in the trunk of the vehicle through the 50-mile chase. All three were arrested in the end but only Stewart has been charged.

Federal court documents state Stewart allegedly fired shots out of the car’s sunroof at Border Patrol officers after the chase began about 3 p.m.

DPS said the suspect was arrested and nobody was injured in the chase.

Stewart was charged in federal court in Phoenix Tuesday afternoon with alien smuggling, domestic transportation of unauthorized aliens, concealing or harboring unauthorized aliens and/or encouraging or inducing unauthorized aliens to enter the United States. He is in the custody of U.S. Homeland Security.

Named as material witnesses in the case against Stewart are Noe Ruiz-Ortega and Martin Savala-Loya, the two passengers inside the trunk during the high-speed chase.

A Border Patrol agent said in a text that four agents were working the checkpoint south of Casa Grande when a “silver Ford Taurus came up with a guy filled with prison tattoos.”

The primary agent asked the driver for consent to look in the trunk.

When the trunk was popped, agents discovered it contained two male illegal migrants. That’s when Stewart sped off, but not before one of the agents was able to slam the trunk shut.

Five miles into the chase, the Stewart started firing out of the sunroof at Border Patrol vehicles in pursuit as it headed north to Casa Grande, according to court records.

A parade of law enforcement vehicles joined in the pursuit. The chase went west on Jimmie Kerr Boulevard, onto Second Street and eventually north on Pinal Avenue with speeds in excess of 90 mph in the city.

On the northern edge of the city, the suspect avoided tire deflation devices placed by DPS troopers by driving the wrong way in the southbound lanes of Pinal Avenue on two occasions.

The suspect’s vehicle came back around at one point and headed south in Casa Grande before cutting through the Fry’s parking lot, going off-road and back northbound onto Pinal Avenue.

As the chase continued, the suspect again drove the wrong way — north in the southbound lanes — and finally got onto Interstate 10 westbound and headed toward Phoenix.

The chase topped 110 mph on the interstate.

Agencies involved in the chase through Casa Grande included the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, DPS, U.S. Border Patrol and the Casa Grande Police Department. Gila River Police joined the pursuit as it reached its end.

The chase ended on I-10 south of Phoenix shortly after 3:30 p.m.

According to the Gila River Police Department, the pursuit involving DPS ended at milepost 174, near Casa Blanca Road.

ADOT reported a “rolling closure” of the freeway in both directions because of the law enforcement incident. Also, Sacaton Middle School went on lockdown at the same time, but it isn’t clear if that was because of the chase.

Law enforcement involved did not discharge their firearms during the pursuit, and no injuries were reported.

After being arrested, “Stewart stated that he picked up people and that there were people in the back. He also indicated he did this for money,” the federal court complaint states.

3
2
4
0
2

Jim Headley is a reporter covering breaking news, crime and justice around Pinal County. He can be reached at jheadley@pinalcentral.com.

Newsletters