Residents in the Richmond, Virginia, reported seeing a strange sight Tuesday night: a stolen “tank” being chased by dozens of police vehicles. According to the Virginia State Police, the “tank,” is actually a weaponless armored personnel carrier. The chase ended by about 9:45 p.m. and the suspect was taken into custody, state police said.
He has been identified as 29-year-old Joshua Yabut, a company commander with the Virginia Army National Guard and former NASA employee who unsuccessfully tried to petition his way onto the ballot for the U.S. Senate this year. You can read more about Yabut here.
The tank-like armored vehicle was taken from Fort Pickett, in Blackstone, Virginia, state police told WTVR-TV. No injuries or crashes have been reported. Shocked bystanders who spotted the military vehicle plowing down highways and Richmond city streets posted videos to social media. The truck was seen on Interstate 95 and U.S. Route 460.
Police said the vehicle was taken on the joy ride by a soldier, who has not been identified. The chase lasted nearly two hours, with speeds topping out at 40 mph.
You can watch one of the videos below, recorded on Route 460 (warning – language):
In one video, shot in Richmond, a witness yells, “It’s a goddamn tank! What the hell! Bro!” as the vehicle and police roll by.
Another video shows the chase going through Richmond on Broad Street:
Two more videos also showed the pursuit on Broad Street in Richmond:
Another video was captioned, “what the f*ck did I just see”:
Yet another video captured the chase as it rolled through Dinwiddie:
The chase ended with the APC stuck on a median on Broad Street between City Hall and Capitol Square, Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter Ned Oliver tweeted. He posted a photo of the end of the pursuit:
“Witnesses say he drove the vehicle up on the median, stopped, got out and started walking around. Police sent a dog to attack him and shot him with a taser and he was taken into custody. The chase began more than 60 miles away in Blackstone,” Oliver tweeted. “He got off the interstate at the Boulevard exit and drove down Broad Street. He drove by me at about 40 mph near the intersection with Belvidere. Traffic had been backed up and police screamed into the intersection and started frantically clearing the road as he approached.”
“No crashes or injuries occurred during the course or as a result of this incident,” Virginia State Police spokesperson Corrine Geller said in a statement. “The adult, male driver of the vehicle is now in state police custody and the incident is under investigation. Charges are pending.”
Fort Pickett, located in Nottoway County, is a Virginia Army National Guard base. According to the Army’s website, the base is home to an “Army National Guard Maneuver Training Center.” The website states:
Fort Pickett Maneuver Training Center is located in Blackstone, VA approximately 40 miles southwest of Richmond. Fort Pickett is an Army National Guard training facility serving soldiers from regional National Guard, active military units from other installations, and soldiers from all branches of military. Fort Pickett is committed to providing premier training and quality support to our customers all year round.
Fort Pickett’s mission is providing realistic and challenging training to our customers, maintains physical security and force protection of our facility in support of soldier readiness and deployment missions. Fort Pickett strives to support our customers through innovation and partnership, while fostering balance.
Fort Pickett has 42,000 acres of Manuever areas and provides many state of the art facilities such as Live Fire Range, a Forward Operation Base, Urban Assault, Training Villages, EST 2000 and several other training facilities to support our customers.
Our vision is providing a trained, proud, customer oriented, and highly motivated team of discipline Soldiers and Civilians committed to supporting our military services of Commonwealth and country.
In a statement Virginia State Police said they were notified the vehicle was “driven away” from Fort Pickett about 7:55 p.m. Tuesday. “The military vehicle – which is not equipped with any weaponry and is NOT a tank – was driven east on Route 460 at a maximum speed of about 40 mph,” state police said.
Yabut was being held at the Richmond city jail Wednesday and is facing charges of driving under the influence of drugs, felony evading police and felony unauthorized use of a vehicle. The Virginia Army National Guard is expected to release information late Wednesday about his military status.