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Gas-theft chase ends with drawn gun, meth find

Alfano

A Leesburg man was behind bars Friday, accused of filling up his tank without paying, fleeing police, meth possession and being a habitual traffic violator.

Brandon Stuart Alfano, 25, pumped about $40 worth of gas into a maroon Ford van at Katie’s Kwik Mart on North Main Street about 8:25 a.m. and then left without paying, according to a statement issued by the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department.

It said off-duty Winona Lake Police Officer Joe Bumbaugh spotted the van within minutes on Armstrong Road near County Road 200 East.

Instead of stopping, police said, the van took off, turning into Oswego and then going south on Warsaw/Oswego Road. As Bumbaugh got near County Road 250 East, he saw the van had turned around and was headed directly at his squad car, the sheriff’s department said.

The van then stopped, and Bumbaugh said he held the driver at gunpoint after seeing him pull what appeared to be a handgun from the center console. Alfano soon dropped the weapon, police said, which turned out to be a pellet gun.

After he was taken into custody, a sheriff’s sergeant reported finding that Alfano was carrying methamphetamine.

Alfano was being held on preliminary charges of theft, felony fleeing law enforcement with motor vehicle, possession of methamphetamine and operating a motor vehicle while determined to be a habitual traffic violator, the sheriff’s department said.

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