Sus­pect from stand­off charged with felony flee­ing

The Sentinel-Record - - FRONT PAGE - STEVEN MROSS

A lo­cal man who fled from a Gar­land County sher­iff’s deputy last month and later prompted a 90-minute stand­off and a “soft lock­down” at a nearby school and day care when he re­fused to get out of his car was charged Thurs­day with felony flee­ing.

Bran­don Keith Oswalt, 33, who lists a Poppy Street ad­dress, was taken into cus­tody around 1:30 p.m. Thurs­day at a Lit­tle Rock hos­pi­tal where he had been trans­ferred af­ter be­ing ini­tially eval­u­ated at a lo­cal hos­pi­tal and brought back to Hot Springs on the flee­ing charge, pun­ish­able by up to six years in prison.

He was ini­tially held on $2,500 bond but ap­peared via video Fri­day morn­ing in Gar­land County District Court where Judge Ralph Ohm in­creased his bond to $5,000. He pleaded not guilty to the flee­ing charge and a felony re­view hear­ing is set for Dec. 31. He re­mained in cus­tody as of Fri­day af­ter­noon.

Ac­cord­ing to the prob­a­ble cause af­fi­davit, on Oct. 29, around 3:15 a.m., sher­iff’s deputies re­ceived a “Be on the Look­out” alert for Oswalt, who was re­port­edly driv­ing a sil­ver Ford Fu­sion, be­cause he had al­legedly made sui­ci­dal threats and had a his­tory of sui­cide at­tempts. He had re­port­edly last been seen in the area of Crys­tal Hill and Trea­sure

Isle roads.

Shortly be­fore 7:30 a.m., Deputy Joey Pate re­sponded to a re­port of a sus­pi­cious ve­hi­cle near the in­ter­sec­tion of high­ways 128 and 70 east and upon ar­rival spot­ted a sil­ver pas­sen­ger car “with a knife stabbed into the hood.” Pate said he re­called the ve­hi­cle matched the de­scrip­tion of the one Oswalt was re­port­edly driv­ing.

As Pate ap­proached the ve­hi­cle, the driver, iden­ti­fied as Oswalt, looked at him and said, “Hell no,” and then started the car, driv­ing away at a slow pace. Oswalt al­legedly dis­obeyed Pate’s re­peated ver­bal com­mands to stop and con­tin­ued onto High­way 70 trav­el­ing east to­ward Hot Springs.

Pate got back in his unit and be­gan pur­su­ing Oswalt, not­ing that dur­ing the pur­suit Oswalt “drove in a reck­less man­ner that dis­played in­dif­fer­ence to the value of hu­man life” by re­peat­edly brak­ing his car al­most caus­ing Pate to collide with him.

Arkansas State Po­lice took over the pur­suit and ex­e­cuted a pit ma­neu­ver, dis­abling Oswalt’s ve­hi­cle in the 3100 block of High­way 70 near Cross­gate Church. Once stopped, Oswalt re­fused to get out of the ve­hi­cle, prompt­ing a stand­off.

Cut­ter Morn­ing Star School District, which was near the scene of the stand­off, was put on “soft lock­down” dur­ing the in­ci­dent “just for pre­cau­tion­ary rea­sons,” ac­cord­ing to Su­per­in­ten­dent Nancy An­der­son.

The Cross­gate Learn and Play Preschool, 3102 E. Grand, was also on lock­down dur­ing the in­ci­dent, ac­cord­ing to a post on their Face­book page. “The chil­dren and teach­ers are safe in­side the build­ing,” it said.

At one point, the Hot Springs Po­lice De­part­ment’s MRAP ve­hi­cle was brought to the scene, with law en­force­ment ve­hi­cles from mul­ti­ple agen­cies block­ing the road­way.

Af­ter re­peated at­tempts to ne­go­ti­ate with Oswalt, a Taser was de­ployed and he was taken into cus­tody shortly be­fore 9:30 a.m. with­out fur­ther in­ci­dent and trans­ported by LifeNet to a lo­cal hos­pi­tal.

The lock­downs were lifted af­ter he was taken into cus­tody and the road re­opened. A war­rant on the flee­ing charge was later is­sued.


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