Olathe Man Indicted Following Police Chase on Downtown Airport Runway
Also Charged with Illegal Firearm, Meth
(STL.News) An Olathe, Kansas, man who led police officers on a high-speed chase down a runway at the downtown airport has been indicted by a federal grand jury for disrupting airport operations as well as illegally possessing a firearm and methamphetamine.
Efren Torres-Rodriguez, 34, was charged in a four-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo., on May 18. He was arrested today.
Kansas City, Mo., police officers were notified of a suspicious car, a Dodge Charger, parked near a gate at the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport on Feb. 1, 2022. When officers arrived, they found Torres-Rodriguez passed out in the driver’s seat of the running car. Officers turned off the car and opened the door, which woke up Torres-Rodriguez.
Officers ordered Torres-Rodriguez out of the car, but he refused. Instead, Torres-Rodriguez started the vehicle and drove away, crashing through the gate to the airfield. Torres-Rodriguez drove at speeds up to 100 miles per hour down the airport runway, with officers in pursuit. Torres-Rodriguez drove on a tarmac on the west side of the airfield. When he attempted to cross over the airstrip into a grassy area, his vehicle became inoperable. Officers removed Torres-Rodriguez from the vehicle and placed him under arrest. Officers found a clear plastic bag in his pants pocket that contained methamphetamine.
When officers searched Torres-Rodriguez’s vehicle, they found a Glock .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun with an extended magazine, which were both empty of ammunition, under the driver’s seat. They also found several rounds of ammunition and drug paraphernalia.
Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition. Torres-Rodriguez has prior felony convictions for possession of a firearm with a prior violent offense, for being a felon in possession of a firearm, and for robbery.
The federal indictment charges Torres-Rodriguez with one count of damaging and interfering with an air navigation facility, one count of damaging and disrupting an international airport, one count of being a felon and drug user in possession of a firearm, and one count of possessing methamphetamine.
The charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Trey Alford. It was investigated by the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department and the FBI.
Project Safe Neighborhoods
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime.
Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.