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Man, who falsely claimed hostage situation, arrested after pursuit in moving truck

Situation stopped traffic on I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson in Casa Grande

Monday, February 8, 2010 -

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On Sunday, February 07, 2010, at about 1:01 p.m., DPS received a 9-1-1 call which originated at the Phoenix Police Department’s 9-1-1 center from a man, later identified as Michael John Cook, 40, of Mesa, Ariz., claiming he was driving a 24 foot rental moving truck with 70 illegal aliens in the back of the truck with at least three heavily armed men in the back of the truck holding the people hostage. Cook further claimed his family was being held hostage at another location by Coyotes or Human Smugglers, and if he didn’t get the truck to Mexico, he and his family would be killed.

A Gila River Police Officer located the moving truck traveling eastbound on I-10 near the Firebird Raceway, with a flat left front tire after citizens complained about the truck’s driving behavior.

The Gila River Officer was attempting to stop the truck when he heard the broadcasted attempt to locate by DPS dispatchers in reference to the moving truck. DPS officers quickly responded to the situation. DPS set up officers further east on I-10 in Pinal County and in the Casa Grande area as well as alerting DPS officers in the Tucson area and alerting other area law enforcement agencies. Gila River Police had initiated a pursuit with the truck after Cook initially failed to stop. Deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) also joined in the pursuit.

Cook warned that police officers who attempted to approach the truck or open the back of the truck would be shot by the gunmen. Cook alleged a coyote was holding a gun to his head while he was driving and later claimed he had just shot and killed the coyote. He claimed he was told by a white supremacist group that he would have to run any roadblock in order to get the truck into Mexico.

DPS and Casa Grande Police units closed exit ramps in Casa Grande to prevent the truck from exiting into the populated area. DPS Units stopped westbound traffic on I-10 at exit 194 or Florence Blvd. After westbound traffic had been stopped DPS officers deployed spike strips deflating all but the right rear tire at milepost 188. After deploying spike strips, DPS was able to take over the pursuit. DPS units attempted a roadblock with three patrol units at milepost 192, in Casa Grande, where Cook drove through the median to get around it. After driving around the roadblock at milepost 192, a DPS unit attempted a Pursuit Immobilization Technique (PIT) maneuver to force the truck off of the road at milepost 193. The officer initially attempted the PIT at the right rear of the truck in which Cook attempted to ram the officer back. The officer then successfully preformed the PIT to the left rear of the truck, pushing it into the center median. Cook crossed the westbound lanes, which had been closed, over to the right shoulder of the westbound lanes and tried to continue drive but got stuck on the shoulder.

At about 1:52 p.m. DPS officers were able to call Cook out of the truck and take him into custody. The DPS Air Rescue Helicopter responded to the situation. Treating this as a hostage situation, DPS set up a large perimeter, and the DPS SWAT Team along with DPS hostage negotiators responded from the Phoenix area with an armored vehicle and tactical officers to clear the truck and to ensure no explosives were in the truck as well. The DPS SWAT Team breached the rear door of the truck and found no people in the truck, nor was any explosives hidden within the truck. I-10 was re-opened at about 4:25 p.m. Top speed of the pursuit was around 40 mph. The U.S. Border Patrol responded to the situation with multiple units and provided assistance with traffic control as well as staging in area in the event there was any validity to Cook’s claims.

Cook rented the moving truck in Mesa, Ariz., at about 11:30 a.m. today and prior to the pursuit was involved at least one hit and run allegedly causing several thousands of dollars in damage in Gilbert, Ariz. Cook had $3595.00 in cash on him at the time of arrest.

  • Suspect: Michael John Cook, 40, of Mesa, Ariz.
  • Booked into the Pinal County Jail on the following charges
  • Unlawful Flight: A.R.S: 28-622.01
  • Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer: A.R.S: 13-1204 A.8.A
  • Endangerment: A.R.S: 13-1201
  • Criminal Damage: A.R.S: 13-1602 A.1
  • DUI - Slightest degree: A.R.S: 28-1381 A.1
  • DUI - Drugs: A.R.S: 28-1381 A.3
  • False Reporting to Law Enforcement: A.R.S: 13-2907.01

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The Arizona Department of Public Safety is a state-level law enforcement agency whose mission is to protect human life and property by enforcing state laws, deterring criminal activity and providing vital support to the State of Arizona and its citizens.