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Man arrested after car chase with police

A local man was arrested following a car chase with police around 8:30 p.m. April 2. Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie said that the incident began when a deputy noticed an equipment malfunction on a vehicle in the area of Ravenna Trail and 200th Street.

Paul Allen Lesch, 50, of Hastings, has been charged with fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle. According to the criminal complaint, at 8:36 p.m. April 2, 2017, a deputy with the Dakota County Sheriff's Department observed a vehicle in Ravenna Township. The suspect vehicle's taillights were not illuminated. The deputy activated his emergency lights while on Ravenna Trail, north of 200th Street East. The vehicle pulled onto the shoulder, but continued to drive.

The deputy activated the siren. The suspect vehicle drove back into the driving lane and continued driving at 30 mph. The deputy notified dispatch that the vehicle was not stopping and additional squads with emergency lights joined the pursuit of the vehicle.

The suspect vehicle continued to drive at about 30 mph until the vehicle reached 185th Street East on Ravenna Trail. The vehicle's speed then increased to 70 mph in a 55 mph zone. As the vehicle approached 175th Street, the vehicle crossed over the centerline and into the other lane, driving in both north and southbound lanes. The deputy used the spotlight on the vehicle and noted that there was only one occupant in the vehicle.

Spike strips were placed in front of the suspect vehicle on Ravenna Trail at 18th Street. The suspect vehicle drove over the spikes causing a flat tire. The deputy observed sparks coming from the rim of a tire. The suspect vehicle jerked and then drove into a parking lot and then southbound along the train tracks. The deputy's squad got stuck and could no longer pursue the suspect vehicle.

The registered owner of the vehicle was Paul Allen Lesch. Witnesses provided information about the location of the suspect vehicle, which was located at the defendant's residence. Police went to the defendant's residence and his roommate answered the door and allowed police to come inside. The defendant was located and arrested.

Lesch acknowledged driving the suspect vehicle that night. He indicated that he did not stop because he was being "chased" by the police and he was "afraid." He was afraid that he was going to get into trouble, but he wasn't sure why he would get into trouble. Lesch admitted that he saw the police behind him and acknowledged that he initially thought about pulling over, but he wanted to get home.

Lesch said that he knows he is supposed to pull over when he see emergency lights. The deputy asked what the defendant learned; he replied that he won. The deputy asked him to define "winning," since he ended up in jail; the defendant responded that he won the race, because his vehicle beat the squad car.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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