Video shows the driver slammed through a metal gate at Berkeley Pointe Apartments.
A man who police say drove through the gate at an Ocala apartment complex late Wednesday night managed to escape a police officer after a high-speed pursuit.
Ocala Police Department officials said 33-year-old Jerywn Thagard was harassing a woman who lives at Berkeley Pointe Apartments, formerly known as Spring Manor, at 2841 NE Seventh St. in Ocala, and she was concerned for her safety. The woman said Thagard told her she would have to call the police.
The woman told officers he did not have a driver’s license and would be driving a white 1995 Ford Thunderbird.
While at the apartment, officers saw the vehicle and noticed the driver had not used his turn signal when turning east on Northeast Seventh Street from 25th Avenue. An officer signaled for the driver to stop as the vehicle entered the apartment complex. The driver at first slowed down, and at that time an officer recognized the driver as Thagard.
Officers told him to stop, but instead he increased his speed and slammed into the metal front gate. The impact ripped the front of Thagard’s vehicle as he drove from the complex.
An officer followed Thagard with lights and sirens. Authorities said Thagard’s vehicle ran the stop sign at Northeast Seventh Street and 25th Avenue and a red traffic light at Northeast 25th Avenue and 14th Street, and continued driving. The officer estimated Thagard’s speed at 85 mph.
The officer said that, at the intersection of Northeast 24th Street and 25th Avenue, Thagard turned off the vehicle's lights. The officer subsequently lost sight of the vehicle.
Checking Thagard’s driving history, police officials discovered that he has seven previous convictions for driving while license is suspended or revoked and is a habitual traffic offender.
Officers are trying to get a warrant for his arrest. State records show Thagard has been in and out of prison since June 2002. He was last released in January 2017. He served time for offenses such as false imprisonment, fleeing and eluding, and armed trespass of a structure.
Anyone with information about Thagard’s whereabouts can call OPD at 369-7000. To remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 368-STOP, or visit www.ocalacrimestoppers.com.
Contact Austin L. Miller at 867-4118, firstname.lastname@example.org or @almillerosb.