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Man who stole police car, fled from police multiple times arrested

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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — A man reported for strange behavior throughout the valley Saturday is in custody after he lead police on a wild goose chase in one of their patrol cars.

Cottonwood Heights Police responded around 6:30 a.m. Saturday to reports of a man with a gun at a hotel, which police later determined were unfounded.

During the investigation, 38-year-old Wesley Glenn Velasco began acting strangely and was asked to leave the hotel. Police found drug paraphernalia in Velasco's room.

Saturday afternoon, Velasco was treated for drug use at the Salt Lake International Airport, and left with paramedics to be transported to the hospital. En route, Velasco assaulted two paramedics and jumped out the back of the ambulance near 2700 South and Bangerter Highway in West Valley City.

Timeline of events
6:30 a.m.: Cottonwood Heights Police Department arrive at hotel where Velasco is located. Police find drug paraphernalia in his hotel room, but he is released.

Early Saturday afternoon: Velasco is at the airport, where paramedics are called to treat his drug abuse.

1:10 p.m.: West Valley City Police Department is alerted that an adult man assaulted two paramedics en route to hospital and then fled the ambulance on foot.

Officers find Velasco. He attempts to fight officers. Officer deploys stun gun to no effect. Valesco steals patrol vehicle.

2:10 p.m.: Valesco is spotted by Cottonwood Heights Police. Officer chases Valesco, who has fled the vehicle on foot.

Police apprehend Valesco and take him into custody.
Valesco attempts to flee a final time by kicking through the back window of the patrol car unsuccessfully.

Just after 1 p.m. West Valley Police officers made contact with Velasco near the Stonebridge Golf Course, who was nervous and acting strange. According to West Valley Police, Velasco told officers he had used drugs earlier, and after he tried to fight them, an officer deployed a stun gun to no effect. Velasco then ran to the police cruiser, which he used to flee the scene.

The officer received only minor injuries.

Police chased Velasco to 4100 South and Redwood Road, where they called off the chase due to his reckless driving and alerted nearby agencies.

Using tracking technology, a Cottonwood Heights police officer saw the vehicle behind a strip mall on 3100 East and Big Cottonwood Canyon Road around 2:10 p.m. and Velasco fleeing on foot.

From there, the officer pursued him on foot around a retention pond, over a wall, and to a UDOT parking lot at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon, where he surrendered to Cottonwood Heights Police.

Cottonwood Heights Police Department Sgt. Mark Askerlund said that Velasco complained of some pain after his arrest, but they were unable to determine the cause.

While being transported in a patrol vehicle to the Salt Lake County Jail, Velasco again attempted to escape, this time by trying to kick through the vehicle's back window.

Police said drugs were involved in the man's behavior. He was booked for investigation of aggravated robbery, fleeing, assault on a health care provider, assault on a police officer, damage to a jail and criminal mischief.


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Celeste Tholen Rosenlof


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