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Eventful chase leads to indictment
Keith Johnson car chase.jpg
A Toyota Highlander reportedly driven by Keith William Johnson is surrounded by vehicles after it ran out of gas on Manchester Highway near Country Club Market in October.
Keith Johnson.jpg

A man who led police on a 10-minute, high-speed chase through downtown McMinnville, Westwood and past Warren County High School has been brought to an abrupt stop after being indicted during January’s meeting of the grand jury.

Keith William Johnson, 29, led deputies on a pursuit through two school zones, seven stop signs and a red light before running out of gas on Manchester Highway near Country Club Market.

The chase began on West Sparta Street and Winding Way when deputy Chris McCormick observed a gold Nissan Highlander cross the center line several times. When McCormick activated his emergency lights to initiate a traffic stop, Johnson fled.

The vehicle made its way to Chancery Street and headed toward downtown. According to scanner communication from McCormick, the vehicle sped down streets including Locust, High, West End and Morrison.

While traveling down Morrison Street in Westwood, the chase reportedly reached its top speed of 90 mph. Officers tried to cut off the vehicle by putting down spike strips in the area of South Chancery Street but didn’t arrive in time.

Johnson sped past the high school and continued on Vervilla Road before turning on Gillespie Road to reach Highway 55. The vehicle traveled past Country Club Market and turned onto Country Club Drive before returning to Manchester Highway where Johnson ran out of gas and pulled over on the shoulder.

The three occupants of the Highlander were detained and identified as Keith William Johnson, Paul E. Knight and Ashley Beard. Johnson had warrants out of Warren and White counties, and Knight had warrants out of Van Buren County. 

Beard, the front-seat passenger, admitted to concealing a glass vile containing meth inside of her person. All of the suspects were placed into custody and taken to the Warren County Sheriff’s Department where a nurse removed the vile from Beard, which contained 1.21 grams of meth and drug paraphernalia.

Johnson was indicted on charges of evading arrest, reckless endangerment, failure to maintain lane, and due to Johnson not having a valid driver’s license, he also received a charge for driving while his license was cancelled, suspended or revoked.