Chase, manhunt ends with arrest

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The man who led law officers on a high-speed chase through multiple parishes Thursday was arrested after a manhunt.

The pursuit began in Claiborne Parish when authorities were searching for Steven Garcia, 44, of the 1000 block of Louisiana Avenue, who has warrants in multiple parishes, Webster sheriff’s Chief Deputy Bobby Igo said.

Garcia was driving a pickup truck pulling a piece of equipment on a flatbed trailer during the pursuit, which he led authorities down U.S. Highway 79 into Webster Parish. Igo said Louisiana State Police used spike strips at the Webster and Claiborne parish line.

During the chase, which reached speeds of around 90 mph, Garcia reportedly was driving into oncoming traffic and running drivers off the road.

“He was dangerous, the way he was driving,” Igo said. “Thankfully no one was hurt.”

Garcia bailed out of the disabled truck just west of a truck stop on U.S. Highway 79 between Minden and Homer. He then fled into the woods, Igo said, prompting a manhunt in an area.

Meth was also reportedly found in the truck after he crashed it into the woods.

A passenger in the truck was detained; police later released him without charges.

Assisting in Thursday’s chase was the Louisiana State Police, Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshalls Office, Minden Police Department, Claiborne Parish Sheriff’s Office and Homer Police Department.

“This was a group effort,” Igo said. “Catching Garcia was a result of all the agencies working so smoothly together.”

Garcia was eventually captured after bloodhounds from David Wade Correctional Center were released into the area the search was centered on.

He was booked into Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center on charges of aggregated flight from an officer, aggravated assault on a police officer with a motor
vehicle, possession with intent to distribute, careless operation, fugitive from Minden Police Department and as a fugitive from Lincoln Parish. His bond as not been set.

Garcia had been on the run for several days and had been stealing multiple vehicles along the way, Igo said. On Monday, Minden Police attempted to stop Garcia on Homer Road when he led police on a multi-parish chase to Lincoln Parish.

Last week, Minden Police went to a home in the 200 block of Third Street searching for Garcia. At the time, he wasn’t home, but his girlfriend, Whitney L Mathews, 36, was arrested on charges of possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to reports.

While at the home, police reportedly found a small amount of crystal methamphetamine, numerous baggies, pipes believed to be used for smoking methamphetamine and several bags of suspected marijuana.

Mathews reportedly told officers the drugs and the paraphernalia belonged to her boyfriend.

Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper said Garcia was wanted in Minden on warrants for possession of marijuana and possession of meth.

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