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Arson suspect flees in squad car, stop sticks end chase

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. -- A woman who had been arrested at a fire in downtown Alexandria managed to get behind the wheel of a squad car and drove off at speeds topping 100 mph before she was caught near Sauk Centre on Sunday, Nov. 6.Alexandria police ...

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. -- A woman who had been arrested at a fire in downtown Alexandria managed to get behind the wheel of a squad car and drove off at speeds topping 100 mph before she was caught near Sauk Centre on Sunday, Nov. 6.
Alexandria police say Jennifer Hillard, 35, of Alexandria, faces charges of arson, theft of a motor vehicle, fleeing a peace officer, driving while impaired, possession of a controlled substance, reckless driving and speeding related to the fire and the chase.
The episode started when police and firefighters were called to a fire on the 500 block of Broadway at 6:41 p.m. Sunday.
Firefighters used an extinguisher to put out the fire and the apartment was believed to empty. But police found Hillard hiding in the ceiling tiles of the apartment. Hillard fell through the tiles and into an adjoining laundry room.
Police said Hillard was found to have a methamphetamine pipe in her possession along with a lighter.
Hillard was arrested and placed in a marked squad car but managed to free one hand from her handcuffs and open and crawl through a sliding window to the squad car's driver's seat.
Hillard then drove off in the Alexandria squad car.
About 7:12 p.m., a Douglas County dispatcher informed officers the squad was heading east on Douglas County Road 82. Before officers started their pursuit, Hillard was driving at speeds between 100 and 126 miles per hour toward Osakis.
An officer from the Osakis Police Department intercepted Hillard as she was entering the city and gave chase. Other agencies assisted in the pursuit until a Minnesota State Trooper was able to deploy stop sticks, ending the chase.
There were no personal injuries reported or damage to property, other than to the Alexandria squad car, police said.
The news release from Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels said that after a review of video, it appears the back sliding window of the squad car was closed, however, Hillard slid it open easily, indicating it may not have been fully latched in the closed position.
Hillard is in the Douglas County jail awaiting a court appearance.

Related Topics: CRIMEALEXANDRIA
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