A Spanaway man with a warrant for his arrest called 911 about a fake shooting Thursday night before leading sheriff’s deputies on a chase through East Pierce County, prosecutors say.
Thomas Roper, 29, was arraigned Friday afternoon in Pierce County Superior Court on charges of attempting to elude police, escaping community custody, false reporting, obstructing police and reckless endangerment. Court Commissioner Meagan Foley set his bail at $500,000.
According to charging documents:
A Pierce County sheriff’s deputy spotted a Honda Civic parked along Canyon Road East near 112th Street East about 9:45 p.m. Thursday night, engine running, windshield wipers at work, windows fogged up.
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The deputy pulled up behind them and walked up to their car. Roper was reclined in the driver’s seat, with a woman in the passenger seat.
The deputy knocked on the driver’s window and told him to roll it down, and Roper reached and unlocked the rear door instead.
Roper fumbled in the front seat for something, so the deputy reached through the back door and opened the front door so he could see Roper’s hands.
The deputy asked both people for their names and dates of birth, then went back to his car to run them. Roper’s felony warrant for escaping community custody came up. A second deputy arrived to help.
As the first deputy wrote in his report:
“I walked back to the Honda and opened the driver’s door. I told Roper to step out and he did. I noticed that Roper had a cellphone in his hands when I opened the door. Roper stepped out of the car and as his feet hit the cement the dispatch tone indicating a serious incident went off.”
A shooting had been called out eight blocks away at a car wash at 104th Street East and Canyon Road and a victim was down. The caller said his phone was dying, and dispatchers were unable to call it back.
The two deputies at Roper’s car and a third deputy went to the car wash with guns drawn. They didn’t find a victim, witnesses or evidence of a shooting.
“After finding nothing at the car wash, I realized the call was likely made by Roper to divert me from the call involving him,” the deputy wrote.
Dispatchers announced what had happened, and a Washington State Patrol trooper spotted Roper’s Honda and followed it.
A sheriff’s deputy was driving north on 94th Avenue East from 112th Street on his way to serve as an honor guard with the body of slain Deputy Daniel McCartney at Mountain View Funeral Home in Lakewood. The trooper saw the deputy while going the other direction and motioned for the deputy to follow Roper.
That deputy tried to keep the pursuit at the speed limit as long as possible to let other law enforcement officers respond.
Roper drove southbound on 94th Avenue with the deputy in pursuit. He tried to evade stop sticks set up at 94th Avenue and 144th Street East by going in the opposing lane but hit them at 60 mph.
Nevertheless, he persisted, speeding up to 70 mph as he approached the T intersection with 152nd Street East. Roper went to turn right there, went wide, hit a sign, sheared off the driver’s side mirror on a stop sign, then went off the road and got stuck in the muck.
Roper ran off, leaving his companion in the passenger seat, with a car full of prepaid debit cards, gift cards and another person’s ID.
The pursuing deputy watched Roper go into the woods before hiding behind a large tree. The deputy and trooper eventually got Roper to follow their commands and arrested him there.
Roper’s female companion told deputies he had called 911 to report the false shooting, and that Roper regretted making the report because he only had to serve 30 days in jail for his warrant.