COWLITZ COUNTY, Wash. – Authorities arrested a retired military man, who they said suffers from PTSD, on Wednesday after he threatened to commit a “Las Vegas” style shooting and led them on a nearly 100-mile chase.
Christopher James Bleavins, 35, of Lakewood, Wash., fled Joint Base Lewis McChord Wednesday afternoon and sped off in a Red Mazda after he was approached by military police, according to Charlie Rosenzweig, spokesman for the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office. JBLM police initially pursued Bleavins but Washington State Patrol soon took over the chase southbound on Interstate 5.
At milepost 58, about 60 miles south of JBLM, Bleavins collided with a semi-truck but continued to drive away at a high rate of speed. The truck driver was not hurt, Rosenzweig said.
WSP ended its pursuit at the Cowlitz/Lewis County Line, shortly after the collision.
Castle Rock police then spotted Bleavins driving faster than 100 mph about 10 miles south of the county line.
Soon after Castle Rock police engaged in the chase, Cowlitz County deputies took over the pursuit. In several attempts to get away, Bleavins tried to crash into a deputy’s patrol car, as well as other vehicles on the busy freeway. Bleavins would slow down to 45 mph, swerve in front of other vehicles across all three lanes, then speed back up to 100 mph, Rosenzweig said.
At milepost 33, Bleavins crashed into another car, which caused him to lose control of his vehicle. Bleavins’ Mazda spun off I-5 and landed up against a railroad track base. He then exited the car but deputies were able to take him into custody.
Bleavins and the driver of the other car both suffered minor cuts on their heads, Rosenzweig said.
The driver of the other car told KGW she was in the left lane coming around a curve when she first saw Bleavins driving on the shoulder a few cars behind her. She said she tried to move into the middle lane so he could get off the shoulder, and that’s when they collided.
“I spun around a couple times before landing in the left shoulder,” she said in a message to KGW. “He was over by the tracks on the other side of the road with cops blocking traffic and pointing guns at him by the time I could see anything because of the spin.”
After deputies brought Bleavins into custody, they determined he was not armed. However, they haven’t determined whether he has access to firearms.
Bleavins was booked in the Cowlitz County jail on charges of first-degree assault, hit-and-run, reckless endangerment and eluding police. He is being held without bail.