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Fugitive thinks outside bun in 2-county chase

Jermaine Askia Cooper really wanted a burrito. And he was willing to drive 90 mph with police cruisers tailing him across two counties to get it.

The chase started just after 11 a.m. Tuesday near McKinnie Avenue and Hessen Cassel Road on Fort Wayne’s southeast side.

Fort Wayne police spotted Cooper – who was wanted on multiple felony charges – and tried to pull him over, according to a report by Sgt. Mark Walters of the department’s Vice and Narcotics Division.

But Cooper sped off, driving through neighborhoods on the city’s south side. At one point, Cooper threw a .45-caliber Colt semiautomatic handgun out the window, police said. The handgun was recovered in a yard, but police did not indicate where.

It was then that officers called Village Elementary School at 4625 Werling Drive to notify school officials of the pursuit.

The school ordered a code yellow lockdown, which requires students to come inside the school and for all doors to be locked, according to Tamyra Kelly, a spokeswoman for East Allen County Schools.

The safety precaution for students and staff lasted only about 15 minutes, Kelly said.

Meanwhile, Cooper kept driving and got onto U.S. 27, heading south out of the city and reaching speeds in excess of 90 mph, Walters said.

The chase continued into Adams County, but Cooper stopped suddenly after reaching the fast-food eatery of his choice – Taco Bell.

It was at the Taco Bell parking lot in Decatur that Cooper was arrested. He told officers he “knew he was going to jail for a while” and wanted to get one last burrito, Walters wrote in his report.

Cooper, 36, of the 1500 block of Grant Street, faces four counts of dealing cocaine and one count each of resisting arrest by fleeing, possession of cocaine, possession of a controlled substance, possession of the drug Ecstasy and possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon. He was being held without bail.

Fort Wayne police said the charges stem from several drug transactions made between Cooper and undercover officers during the past month.

The two-county pursuit lasted 16 minutes.

In addition, Cooper has federal charges pending against him. A criminal complaint was filed Tuesday against Cooper in U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne.

The complaint contains three counts, including allegations that Cooper was illegally in possession of drugs and a gun and that he was using the gun to further drug trafficking.

According to an affidavit signed by an officer from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Cooper’s Grant Street home was searched with a warrant Monday. During the sweep, which involved police dogs, officers said they found numerous items used for drug manufacturing.

In addition, they confiscated a loaded 9 mm pistol, a .40-caliber Glock handgun, crack cocaine, suspected marijuana, Ecstasy and Oxycodone pills, and more than $1,800 cash, court records said.

Cooper never did get his burrito. Instead, he will be eating what’s offered in the Allen County Jail.

habrams@jg.net

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