A 20-year-old woman was behind bars Monday on suspicion of leading California Highway Patrol officers on a freeway chase from Mira Mesa to just north of Escondido and then turning violent after being arrested.
The pursuit began about 11:30 p.m. Sunday, when Stephanie Renee Wells of San Diego allegedly refused to yield to an officer trying to pull her over for speeding in a 2009 Toyota Highlander on Interstate 15, near Carroll Canyon Road, CHP spokesman Jim Bettencourt said.
Officers followed the SUV, which turned to be stolen, as it continued to the north at speeds exceeding 100 mph. Near Lilac Road, the Highlander ran over a tire-flattening spike strip the Highway Patrol had placed across the freeway in her path.
Wells, who had four passengers with her, slowed the disabled vehicle to a halt just north of Gopher Canyon Road, but refused repeated orders to toss out the keys and exit the SUV, Bettencourt said. She remained uncooperative until CHP personnel used a beanbag shotgun to break out the rear window, he said. Officers then took the five occupants into custody.
After being put into the back of a squad car, Wells allegedly became belligerent, spitting on officers and shattering a rear window by kicking it.
Wells was booked into county jail on suspicion of felony evasion of police, auto theft, grand theft, being in possession of stolen property and vandalism. She was being held on $50,000 bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
It was unclear if the people who had been along for the ride during the pursuit also would face charges.
Several motorists reported getting flat tires due to the spike strip, which remained partially in the roadway after the stolen SUV rolled over it, Bettencourt said.
— City News Service
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