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Police use chainsaw to reach fugitive who fled custody, hid in Ogden home


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OGDEN — Officers used a chainsaw to get access to a man hiding in the crawl space of an Ogden home after a standoff Wednesday morning, police said.

Joseph Andrew Chavez, 27, was avoiding police after escaping out the window of a patrol car Monday, said South Ogden Police Lt. Dwight Ruth. Someone gave police a tip around 8 a.m. that Chavez was inside a home near 30th Street and Pingree Avenue.

Officers arrived to find Chavez allegedly refusing to come outside his home. SWAT officers were called in a short time later.

The Ogden man was hiding in the home's crawl space, and efforts to get him to surrender using a K-9 police dog and tear gas were unsuccessful, Ruth said. So police used a chainsaw to cut through the floor, he said.

"He actually ended up screaming, believing the chainsaw was going to cut part of his body," Ruth said.

The lieutenant defended the decision to use the chainsaw, saying "it was the only way to get him out."

Others in the home with Chavez were seen crying after he was arrested around 11:30 a.m. Officers were able to talk those individuals away from the house before his arrest, Ruth said.

Chavez, who reportedly was not armed during the standoff, was medically evaluated and then booked into the Weber County Jail. He wasn't injured by the chainsaw, according to Ruth.

"He still has some injuries from his resisting arrest on Monday," he said.

South Ogden police arrested Chavez on Monday for multiple outstanding felony warrants. He allegedly ran from police in that incident before being detained in the parking lot of the Newgate Mall.

Chavez shimmied his handcuffed hands down around his feet to get them in front of him, then unrolled the window in the back of a parked patrol car, jumped out and ran away, Ruth said. South Ogden's newer patrol cars don't have automatic locking windows, he said, and the window was accidentally left unlocked.

Chavez was charged Tuesday in 2nd District Court in that incident. He is accused of escape from official custody, a third-degree felony; failure to stop at the command of law enforcement and unlawful weapon possession, both class A misdemeanors; and class B misdemeanor possession or use of a controlled substance. No initial court date is set in that case.

Chavez additionally faces three felony theft charges, all of them filed separately earlier this year, in ongoing cases in 2nd District Court. His lengthy criminal history in Utah includes convictions for theft, receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle, failure to stop at the command of law enforcement, and drug possession.

Contributing: Shara Park, Paul Nelson

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