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Jail escapee arrested after high-speed chase and gunfire

Crime Watch

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The following is a news release from the Idaho Falls Police Department on Thursday. Peter Lewis is one of three men who had been released from the Bonneville County Jail on ankle monitors for work release and court-ordered furlough. Just after noon on July 6, deputies said they discovered all three monitors indicated they had been cut. One of the other escapees, Tyson Mitchell, was apprehended previously. As of Thursday afternoon, the only one in the group at large was Levi Bautista.

IDAHO FALLS – Early this morning, July 21, Idaho Falls Police officers and Bonneville County Sheriff’s deputies located Peter Lewis, a known fugitive who recently did not return to Bonneville County Jail after a court-ordered furlough. After a lengthy high-speed pursuit that ended in Madison County, Lewis was arrested on several warrants and new charges including felony attempt to elude a police officer in a motor vehicle, felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and felony aggravated assault after firing a 9mm weapon several times at pursuing officers.

The incident began at approximately 2:45 a.m. when detectives from the IFPD and Bonneville County Special Investigations Units located Lewis driving a blue Honda Civic in the area of John Adams Parkway and Woodruff Avenue. Detectives attempted to initiate a traffic stop on the vehicle by activating their emergency red and blue police lights and sirens; however, Lewis did not comply and began to drive recklessly at high speeds attempting to evade police.

Several Idaho Falls Police Patrol Officers responded to assist, also with their red and blue emergency lights and sirens activated. Lewis continued to flee and attempt to evade officers driving at speeds of 80 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone. Lewis led pursuing officers out of the city limits to Highway 26 traveling northeast where he reached speeds of 100 mph in a 55 mph zone.

Lewis turned off Highway 26 onto North 95th East. A short time later, the Idaho Falls Police officer leading the pursuit saw glass breaking on one of the vehicle’s windows and Lewis point a handgun out the driver’s side window back towards the officer and firing multiple times. Officers and deputies did not return fire at any time during the incident.

Idaho Falls Police officers continued to pursue Lewis and were joined by Bonneville County Sheriff’s deputies. The pursuit entered Jefferson County and continued in the Ririe area, then into Madison County near the Byington Boat Ramp, past Mountain River Ranch, through the Heise area and into the Kelly Canyon area. Lewis and pursuing officers were traveling at speeds well above the posted limits in the area but encountered little to no traffic throughout the pursuit due to the early hour and the remoteness of the areas.

During the pursuit, the Idaho Falls Police patrol vehicle leading the pursuit sustained significant damage after striking a deer that ran between the suspect vehicle and the patrol car. That patrol vehicle was disabled, and the next Idaho Falls Police patrol vehicle in line assumed the lead. While navigating through the remote area, two officers in that IFPD patrol vehicle and the Bonneville County Sheriff’s deputy behind them switched positions, with that deputy leading the final section of the pursuit.

Finally, at about 3:30 a.m. on Trail 213 in the Hinckley Creek area of Madison County, Lewis’s vehicle high-centered on the trail and could not continue any farther. Deputies and officers stopped behind the suspect vehicle and exited their patrol cars; however, Lewis had fled from his vehicle on foot into the densely wooded area.

Officers and deputies called out to Lewis, instructing him to surrender, informing him that a Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office K-9 may be released if he did not do so. Lewis responded to officers, stepped back into a visible area, and complied with officer commands. Lewis was taken into custody with no further incident.

The entire pursuit lasted 51 minutes and traveled approximately 36 miles. Thirteen law enforcement officers, including a City of Ucon Police officer, were involved in various stages of the pursuit. Officers located five spent shell casings in Lewis’ vehicle, further confirming that he had fired at pursuing officers during the pursuit. Fortunately, neither the suspect nor any law enforcement officers sustained injuries during the incident.

Peter Lewis, a 42-year-old Idaho Falls resident, was returned to the Bonneville County Jail where he was booked for the following offenses:

  • Felony eluding (attempt to elude a police officer in a motor vehicle)
  • Felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
  • Felony aggravated assault likely to cause great bodily harm
  • Felony bail jumping
  • Felony warrant – felony escape and misdemeanor malicious injury to property
  • Felony bench warrant – failure to appear (original charge – unlawful possession of a weapon by a convicted felon)
  • Felony bench warrant – failure to appear (original charge – possession of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, possession of drug paraphernalia)
  • Felony bench warrant – – failure to appear (original charge – possession of a controlled substance)
  • Felony bench warrant – failure to appear (original charge – delivery of a controlled substance)
  • Misdemeanor bench warrant – no contact order violation failure to appear
  • Misdemeanor bench warrant – failure to appear (original charge – disturbing the peace)
  • Misdemeanor warrant – no contact order violation