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Vermilion police search for armed man who slipped away following chase

James Thompson told police he was a sovereign citizen and that Jesus Christ told him that he did not need a drivers license before he sped off with police in pursuit.
Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 3:42 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Vermilion police are searching for James Thompson, 39, after he led police on a chase that reached speeds of close to 80 miles an hour before he lost control and crashed into a ditch.

Thompson then jumped out of his truck and ran and managed to elude police and Erie County K-9 during a foot chase through the Vermilion Country Club golf course.

Police had been looking for the suspect in regards to a custody case and it was Thompson they found when they responded to a call for a suspicious vehicle in the city.

When officers asked Thompson for a driver’s license, he responded that he did not need a license because he was a sovereign citizen.

When pressed, Thompson also claimed he was a sovereign soul and Jesus Christ told him that he did not need a driver’s license.

After repeated requests by a Vermilion officer to turn off his truck, Thompson suddenly shifted the car into drive and took off until he crashed into the ditch and then took off on foot.

Officers found ammunition for an AK-47, a bullet-proof vest, knives and survival gear in Thompson’s truck, but did not find a firearm.

Vermilion Police Chief Chris Hartung believes Thompson was armed while he ran from his officers.

“He was running through the golf course, and continuing to keep that right arm straight is a pretty good indicator that he probably had a rifle with him or some type of weapon,” Hartung said.

Hartung said if anyone should spot Thompson, they should not approach him and should immediately call 911.

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