Sexual assault allegation, foot chase, car chase, mistaken identity tied together by 2 suspects wearing red shirts.
Wednesday morning began like an ordinary day for the Rusk Police Department. But that all changed when a sexual assault case lead to a foot chase of a suspected felon, which turned into a case of mistaken identity, a car chase and several arrests.
“It was a circus,” said Rusk Police Joe Evans. “It was a case of a full moon for the criminals, and all the stars aligned for us.”
The Rusk P.D. received a report of a sexual assault occurring at the Timbercreek Apartments on U.S. Highway 84. As the case developed, several witnesses came forward to give information that conflicted with what the police had been told.
“It was apparent that a false report had been made to the Rusk Police department by the victim,” said Chief Evans. The woman recanted her first report and gave a statement to Officer Michael Duncan that she had in fact lied to officers because she was mad at her boyfriend. The other statements from witnesses verified her story of lying to the officers investigating the case.
“Her actions caused the Rusk Police Department, ETMC staff and Memorial Medical Center in Lufkin to spend hours attempting to gather evidence of a sexual assault that had not occurred. Janice Tropp of Rusk was charged with making a false report to a police officer,” he said.
Chief Evans suggested to his officers that they take a break on the sexual assault case paperwork and serve a felony warrant for theft on Trevor Tucker in Rusk.
When they knocked on the door, a woman blocked the entrance and told officers she would not allow them into her home.
“We explained to her that a felony warrant allows us to enter a house. That’s when we noticed a man running out the back door of the home, located on U.S. Highway 84.”
He ran into the woods between U.S. Highways 84 and 69. Chief Evans got a glimpse of the man, who was wearing a red shirt and red pants.
For the next two hours, officers from the Cherokee County Sheriffs Department and the Rusk P.D. combed the area.
In an unexpected twist, Tucker called Detective Stephen Hughes and said he wanted to turn himself in, but he was going to have a friend pick him up.
Police officers drove to a Rusk convenience store, which was the agreed-upon meeting site.
At approximately 4:45 p.m. a vehicle drove slowly past the convenience store, and officers could see that the passenger was wearing a red shirt. When the vehicle didn’t turn into the convenience store, officers turned on their red lights for a traffic stop. However, the vehicle sped away.
A short distance later, the vehicle stopped, and the man in the red shirt jumped out of the vehicle and ran from officers.
RPD officer Daniel Moore began a foot chase which meandered through the properties of a day care center and church.
The suspect was captured by Deputy Sheriff David Heredia and off duty Deputy Sheriff Matt Poole, who approached from the opposite direction. Officers Moore and Branham then handcuffed the suspect, who possessed a quantity of cocaine, marijuana and a handgun.
When officers asked for the suspect’s identification, they realized he was not the original suspect wearing a red shirt – Trevor Tucker.
The fugitive who ran through a school zone and church property was Devante Lee Johnson.
He was charged with possession of a controlled substance in a drug free zone, possession of marijuana in a drug free zone, unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon in a weapons free zone and evading arrest or detention.
Mr. Johnson also had warrants for endangering a child (two counts), warrants for evading arrest and a warrant from the Texas Youth Commission on an old case.
The driver of the vehicle who attempted to evade the officers, Marcus Dewayne Anderson Jr., was charged with three traffic offenses. Another passenger, Terral Deshon Carter, was charged with disorderly conduct.
A short time after the chase the original suspect, Mr. Tucker, surrendered.
He is charged with felony theft and evading arrest or detention.
Chief Evans expressed appreciation to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department for assisting Rusk officers.
“I also would like to thank Wells Chief Jeff Clopp for bringing his tracking dog to assist. This type of cooperation really makes the job rewarding,” he said.
“I imagine that both Johnson and Tucker wonder what might have happened if one of them had worn a blue shirt,” Chief Evans said.