BEND, Ore. - (Update: Fugitive identified; another escape attempt; lengthy criminal history)
An attempted traffic stop on Bend's north end early Monday evening sparked a brief pursuit, extensive manhunt and emergency alert calls to area residents. Deschutes County sheriff's deputies said a K-9 tracking team caught the south county fugitive, convicted in numerous past chases and other crimes, as he tried to hide in a pond -- and he again tried to run late Monday night in the St. Charles Bend parking lot.
Earlier, deputies said Jason Daryl Walter, 43, also jumped in and swam across an irrigation canal in his bid to elude capture.
A deputy tried to stop a white 1991 Ford F-150 pickup truck with expired 2017 license plates around 5:45 p.m. near Deschutes Memorial Gardens, on Highway 97 near Cooley Road north of Bend, Lt. Mike Biondi said.
The driver, later identified as Walter, took off northbound on Highway 97, went off-road briefly, then headed south on the highway at about 20 mph before turning east on Cooley Road, Biondi said.
Walter then sped up to about 60 mph, amid busier pedestrian traffic, so Biondi said the deputy stopped the pursuit "in the interest of public safety" shortly before 6 p.m.
A sheriff's detective who responded to help believed the truck was headed to the city-owned Juniper Ridge area, east of the intersection at Cooley Road and 18th Street, and followed tire tracks in the brush for about a half-mile before finding the now-abandoned truck, the lieutenant said.
Two K-9s were dispatched to help in the search -- Kim, from Bend police, with partner Officer Kevin Uballez, and Brolo from the sheriff's office, with partner Deputy Keith Slater. Kim deployed from the suspect's truck and began tracking to the southeast.
Biondi said Walter was seen jumping into the Central Oregon Irrigation District Canal and swimming across to the east side.
Around 6:10 p.m., another deputy saw Walter running in the area of Scottsdale Road and Old Dechutes Road. More deputies were called in, along with a Bend police drone and pilot.
Brolo was deployed from the area Walter was last seen and eventually began searching a large yard at a home in the 63300 block of Overtree Road. Around 7:15 p.m., Walter was found hiding in a pond on the property.
Biondi said Walter had trouble getting out of the cold pond, but was detained without further incident. Bend fire medics were called in to evaluate Walter for cold exposure, then brought him to St. Charles Bend with non-life-threatening injuries.
Shortly before 11 p.m., Walter -- wearing hospital "scrubs" and handcuffed behind his back -- ran in the parking lot, near the emergency room entrance, and took off across the front parking area before being tackled in the grass by the deputy who had arrested him, Biondi said.
Walter then was taken to the county jail, where he was held without bail due to an arrest warrant for his previous attempt to elude police and a probation violation.
His new charges include a felony count of attempting to elude police, reckless driving, misdemeanor driving with a revoked license and third-degree escape. He also was held on a warrant for unauthorized use of a vehicle.
During the manhunt, residents in the area got phone calls, voice mails and a text alert stating:
"The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office is searching an area northeast of Bend for a person who fled from law enforcement on foot. He may be in the area of Deschutes Market Rd., Yeoman Rd., Old Deschutes Rd., NE 18th St., and the surrounding area."
"Suspect Description: A white male adult in his 20s or 30s, clean shaven, wearing a light blue T-shirt, black pants, and a baseball cap. He may appear wet due to crossing the irrigation canal. Do not approach this person. Please report any sightings immediately by calling 9-1-1. Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Non-Emergency Dispatch (541) 693-6911."
Area resident John Swenson told NewsChannel 21 the neighborhood was cordoned off during the search as a drone flew overhead.
"Then three deputies walked through our yard with assault rifles in hand and a police dog," he wrote. "They asked me if I saw anyone run through our yard. About 10 minutes later, we heard a lot of barking and yelling about a block away when they arrested the guy."
Court records show a lengthy criminal history for Walter, dating back to 1993, including two police pursuits last year, the first in March in La Pine, when he refused to stop an SUV for failing to properly signal a turn. He sped away, crashed his SUV into a house and ran away, deputies said.
After another pursuit last August, Walter pleaded guilty or no contest to three charges. He was sentenced in October to 10 days in jail, a one-year driver's license suspension and 18 months probation.
A statewide bench warrant for his arrest without bail was issued last month for violating more than 30 terms of his current and previous probation, including methamphetamine use, failing to undergo drug treatment or report where he was staying. Probation officers recommended he be sentenced to 30 months in jail, once caught again.
In January 2013, Walter was a fugitive living in Bend when he fled police and a K-9 tracking team found him hiding in rocks along the Deschutes River Trail. It was the third time in less than two years that a police dog had tracked him down while on the run, authorities said.