A man suspected of casing central New Braunfels neighborhoods led police on three chases over 48-plus hours before his luck — and clutch — failed him in Schertz, authorities said.
David Ferguson, city communications coordinator, said police received a call for a suspicious vehicle in the 600 block of Lockener Avenue around 4:39 p.m. on Friday, New Year’s Eve.
Ferguson said that authorities believed “he was casing cars, houses and garages — trying to find easy targets for burglaries" in a 2003 Volkswagen that had been seen in the neighborhood over the past few days.
“Apparently people had been seeing the car for a while but this was the first incident in which the police were called,” Ferguson said. “In this particular case, it involved a confrontation with a resident.”
After pulling into a driveway of a residence, the suspect exchanged words, and then fists with the resident, Ferguson said. “There was a small skirmish that led to the call for police.”
The man escaped in his car, but police knew who he was. Almost 24 hours later, another caller reported seeing the suspect vehicle in the 900 block of Fredericksburg Road at 4:41 p.m. on Saturday, New Year’s Day.
“He was seen driving through the area again when an officer initiated a traffic stop on Fredericksburg near Grandview Avenue. The driver didn’t slow down and took off at a very high rate of speed,” Ferguson said.
The subsequent pursuit zig-zagged through streets around New Braunfels High School before heading east on Loop 337, with speeds reaching 90 mph as it approached River Road.
“Because of the high speed, we then terminated the pursuit as it approached East Common Street,” Ferguson said. “We had already been able to identify him, and we then obtained an arrest warrant for (the suspect) evading in a vehicle.”
At 7:28 p.m., police serving the warrant in the 400 block of Laurel Lane spotted the vehicle pulling up to the suspect’s home.
“He’s in his car arriving home when he flees again,” Ferguson said, adding police tailed the suspect down Wood Road, Mission Drive and then Landa Street. It continued on Loop 337 and then south on Interstate 35.
Ferguson said the suspect vehicle apparently lost power in Selma, where its speed slowed to approximately 30 mph as it exited at Schertz Parkway. It headed east into an area with several industrial business complexes, with the car dying as it completed a left onto Tri-County Road.
“He burned out the clutch and wound up in a parking lot, where he tried to flee on foot,” Ferguson said. “While police were trying to arrest him, he scuffled with officers while reaching down into his waistband to pull out his pocketknife.”
Before he could, a K-9 and another officer managed to subdue the suspect. Ashley Mack Johnson, 51, of New Braunfels, was treated for dog bites at Christus Santa Rosa Hospital-New Braunfels and booked into Comal County Jail just after 8 p.m.
Johnson was charged with two counts of evading arrest or detention and one count of resisting arrest search or transport. Court records indicate it is Johnson’s 11th arrest on 34 charges filed by the NBPD or Comal County Sheriff’s Office since 2009. He remained jailed on Tuesday under bonds totaling $33,000; Ferguson said more charges could be pending.
Editor's note: A correction was made to this story reflecting the proper dates.