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High-speed chase involving stolen vehicle ends north of Ponemah; suspect still being sought

BEMIDJI -- A 55-mile chase that saw speeds in excess of 100 mph ended with the abandonment of the stolen vehicle pursued by police, and its driver fleeing on foot into a wooded area north of Ponemah.

Edwin Lee Johnson, 41, of Bemidji, is being sought by Red Lake Tribal Police after he fled from police in Bemidji Wednesday afternoon. He is described as being 5-foot 7-inches tall and weighing 200 lbs. Johnson has closely shaven hair, according to a press release from Beltrami County emergency management director Beryl Wernberg.

A deputy with the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office pulled Johnson over for reckless driving just after 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sheriff Phil Hodapp said. Johnson fled in a car authorities say is stolen, and was pursued by Bemidji and Beltrami County police. The chase was called off once Johnson reached the Red Lake Indian Reservation due to Johnson’s “increasingly dangerous driving behavior,” the release stated.

The Bemidji man flew through the campus of Bemidji State University at speeds between 50 and 60 mph before leaving Bemidji, according to Hodapp. Speed limits in the area average about 35 mph. Johnson then reached Irvine Avenue Northwest, where he pushed the stolen Oldsmobile Alero police say he was driving to 105 mph. He drove erratically, police said, forcing other vehicles off the road.

At some point after reaching the reservation, Johnson abandoned the car, and ran into a wooded area north of Ponemah, 55 miles north of Bemidji.

If caught, Johnson may face felony fleeing a peace officer charges in the jurisdictions of both police agencies on his tail. The Beltrami County Attorney’s Office is reviewing charges against Johnson, who remained on the loose as of 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Anyone with information regarding Johnson’s whereabouts should call the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office at 333-9111.


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