News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

GPS dart helps nab wanted driver

A deputy deployed a GPS tracker dart in an effort to nab a driver wanted by law enforcement.

A Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office (DSCO) deputy spotted the wanted man’s vehicle on April 18, at approximately 11:15 a.m., while he was driving in the area of Highway 20 and South Pine Street in the City of Sisters. The deputy observed a 2004 GMC Yukon on South Pine Street. The registration for the vehicle was allegedly expired. The sheriff’s office reports that there was also history of this vehicle being associated with a subject the deputy knew to be wanted on pending criminal charges.

According to DCSO, the deputy attempted to stop the vehicle and it immediately turned onto a dirt road and continued driving in an attempt to elude the deputy. The deputy pursued the vehicle for a short distance until it turned back toward the City of Sisters. The deputy discontinued the pursuit due to safety concerns.

A deputy later observed the vehicle driving on Fryrear Road toward Highway 126. The deputy followed the vehicle from a distance, advising other deputies of their location. Another deputy observed the vehicle near Buckhorn Road and Highway 126. That deputy was able to successfully tag the vehicle with a Star Chase GPS dart. Deputies discontinued following the vehicle, and began tracking it remotely.

The GPS tracker showed the vehicle was stationary on BLM land off of Buckhorn Road. Deputies located the vehicle and made contact with the only occupant of the vehicle. The subject, later identified as Justin Merritt, age 39, of Sisters, refused to obey commands to exit the vehicle. Deputies worked to de-escalate the situation and negotiated with Merritt for close to an hour before he agreed to exit the vehicle.

Merritt was taken into custody without incident and lodged in the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Jail on charges of Attempt to Elude (felony), Reckless Driving, and Interfering With a Police Officer.


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