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Car chase leads to arrest

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By Buster Thompson

Citrus County Chronicle

An Inverness man was arrested on a variety of charges Monday night after he led Marion and Citrus County deputies on a high-speed chase.

At about 10:40 p.m. on Monday on State Road 200 in Marion County, Marion sheriff’s deputies were pursuing a vehicle driven by 57-year-old Michael Gordon Crabtree, reaching speeds of up to 75 mph, according to Crabtree’s arrest report.

Deputies were chasing Crabtree’s vehicle because he failed to stop for not having a proper vehicle tag. 

When Crabtree, who lives on East Odier Street in Inverness, entered Citrus County, he called the sheriff’s office’s dispatch to say if deputies didn’t stop chasing him he would kill his passenger.

Citrus County sheriff’s deputies joined the pursuit, which made its way to State Road 44 and then into the parking lots of the Walmart and Lowe’s stores near Inverness.

Crabtree then made a U-turn in an open field near Lowe’s and drove directly at a deputy’s patrol car, forcing the deputy to swerve out of the way.

Crabtree drove back onto S.R. 44 and then headed north on Croft Avenue. Deputies placed stop sticks at the intersection of Croft Avenue and Celina Street, where two of Crabtree’s vehicle’s tires were punctured.

With rubber falling off his tires, Crabtree drove onto eastbound lanes of County Road 486, turned north onto U.S. 41 and then pulled into a gas station at the junction of U.S. 41 and S.R. 200.

Deputies surrounded Crabtree’s vehicle and told Crabtree to get out. Crabtree refused and put a knife to his throat, according to his arrest report. Crabtree then pulled out of the gas station’s parking lot and headed southbound on U.S. 41. 

As Crabtree passed the intersection of C.R. 486 and U.S. 41, a Marion County deputy rammed Crabtree’s vehicle off the road. Deputies forced Crabtree out of his vehicle and detained him.

Crabtree’s passenger was unharmed. Authorities also found methamphetamine on Crabtree while he was being processed at the Citrus County jail.

Crabtree was charged with aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer, resisting without violence, fleeing and eluding, introducing contraband into a jail, driving with a suspended license, not having proper vehicle registration and failing to stop after being ordered.

His bond was set at $13,000.