Crime

He called 911 for a fake shooting to avoid 30 days in jail. He’ll be doing a lot more time than that now

The Spanaway man who called 911 to report a fake shooting before leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase through Pierce County earlier this year pleaded guilty recently.

Thomas Roper, 29, pleaded guilty March 19 in Pierce County Superior Court to charges of attempting to elude police, escaping community custody, false reporting, obstructing police and reckless endangerment in the Jan. 11 incident. He was sentenced to just more than three years in prison for the crimes.

Roper and his female companion were sitting in his Honda Civic along Canyon Road East near 112th Street East about 9:45 p.m. Jan. 11. The engine was on, the windshield wipers were whirring and the windows were fogged up.

That caught the attention of a passing Pierce County sheriff’s deputy, who pulled over, then walked up to the car and knocked on the driver’s window, asking Roper to roll it down.

Instead, Roper unlocked the rear door, then fumbled for something in the front seat.

The deputy, his sight obscured by the fogged windows, opened the back door and told Roper to raise his hands. He got the names and birth dates of Roper and his female companion, then went back to his car to run them. Roper’s warrant for escaping community custody popped up, so a second deputy responded.

The first deputy went back to Roper’s car and asked him to step outside. As Roper stepped out, cellphone in hand, the deputies were dispatched to a report of a shooting at a car wash eight blocks to the north.

Deputies found no evidence of a shooting, but Roper took off in the meantime.

A Washington State Patrol trooper was able to find Roper driving nearby and followed it. Another sheriff’s deputy, who was on his way to serve as an honor guard for his slain co-worker, Daniel McCartney, was driving the opposite direction, but the trooper was able to get his attention.

Roper eventually sped off from the pair on 94th Avenue East, hitting stop sticks at 144th Street East at about 60 mph. He didn’t stop, however -- instead, he went upwards of 70 mph into 94th Avenue’s T intersection with 152nd Street East.

Roper tried to make the right turn there, but he ran wide, hit a sign, went off the road and got stuck in mud. He fled the car on foot, leaving the woman behind with prepaid debit cards, gift cards and another person’s ID.

The pursuing deputy was able to find him behind a tree and arrest him nearby.

Roper’s companion told deputies he called 911 because he didn’t want to serve 30 days in jail for his escape warrant.

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