Police arrest Columbia man after downtown chase

Sunday, August 26, 2007 | 10:20 p.m. CDT; updated 10:48 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008
After surrounding the suspect near Benton Elementary School in Columbia, police arrest Michael Orlando McQuitty on Sunday behind a home on Melbourne Street. Police spent an hour chasing the suspect from a Petro Mart to the school.

A Columbia man was arrested Sunday after he got into a wrestling match with an officer and then led police on an hourlong foot chase near downtown, police say.

Columbia police arrested 33-year-old Michael Orlando McQuitty at about 5 p.m. outside 406 Melbourne St., just north of Stephens College, on suspicion of unlawful use of a weapon and resisting arrest. Police also said they found an unknown amount of marijuana on the suspect.


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Officers approached McQuitty in his car at about 4 p.m. after suspecting him of selling drugs and possibly carrying a weapon near Petro Mart, 500 N. College Ave. McQuitty also had a warrant out for his arrest for driving with a revoked license.

Police said when McQuitty was being arrested, an officer noticed the suspect had a handgun. McQuitty then broke loose and fled on foot.

Officer Steve Wilmoth cut his hand after he tried to tackle the approximately 300-pound, 5-foot-10-inch suspect at the gas station, police said.

The chase moved quickly from North College Avenue to Benton Elementary School, about 2 blocks away, at 1410 Hinkson Ave.

From there, about a dozen gun-toting officers from the Columbia Police Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Boone County Sheriff’s Department spent an hour searching for McQuitty while canine units followed his trail.

Police circled Benton Elementary and the surrounding neighborhood for signs of the suspect and set up a two-block perimeter around the school before focusing their search on several free-standing classrooms.

Police saw several fresh footprints around the school and discovered a door to one of the school’s portable trailers propped open.

At about 5 p.m., officers brought McQuitty, wearing a stained and torn white tank top, blue jean shorts and tennis shoes, out from behind a home on Melbourne Street, near the elementary school.

As he was taken into police custody, McQuitty was overheard telling officers, “I didn’t have no gun ... he didn’t see no gun.”

Foot chases are relatively common in central Columbia, said Columbia police Sgt. Brian Richenberger, adding that someone “fleeing from police in this area is something that is by no means surprising.”

McQuitty has previous convictions for unlawful use of a weapon, distribution and possession of a controlled substance and felonious restraint.

Police continued to search the area around Benton Elementary on Sunday night for a gun after the suspect had been taken into custody.

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