A section of Interstate 10 in Jackson County was shut down for nearly five hours while sheriff’s negotiators tried to talk a truck driver armed with a machete into giving himself up.
The truck driver has been identified as Michael Troy Mack, 33, of Baton Rouge.
He surrendered after authorities used tear gas and smoke bombs, said Master Sgt. Chase Elkins of the Mississippi Highway Patrol.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department has arrested him on a felony pursuit charge.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Sun Herald
In Mobile County, sheriff’s officials have issued warrants for his arrest on charges of attempted second-degree assault, five counts of reckless endangerment and three counts of criminal mischief. Officials said other charges may be filed by the Mississippi Highway Patrol and Alabama Highway Patrol.
The interstate was shut down in both directions between the 60 and 59 mile markers — Mississippi 57 and Gautier-Vancleave Road — from about 9 a.m. until shortly before 2 p.m., causing major congestion, Sheriff Mike Ezell said Wednesday.
Road rage with ambulance
An initial report indicated the truck driver had been involved in a road rage incident with another driver in Alabama.
The pursuit started in Mobile County after paramedics in an ambulance noticed the trucker driving recklessly and turned on its emergency lights, approaching the trucker in an attempt to get him to stop or slow down.
The trucker got angry, according to Mobile County sheriff’s officials, and hit the ambulance. Before Mack crossed state lines into Mississippi, he was involved in at least three crashes in Alabama.
The pursuit in Mississippi started at 8:35 a.m., a state trooper said.
Ricky Washington, who identified himself as a tanker driver in a Facebook video, said he saw the truck driving recklessly and run a car off the road.
“I was going to get beside him with my tanker and try to slow him down but I had to come to the weigh station,” Washington said.
He was going to stop and check on the car, Washington said, but he saw an ambulance and thought it would stop.
Jackson County was alerted that the trucker was heading into Mississippi after the ambulance incident.
An ambulance driver told WPMI-TV, “He’s okay and the 18-wheeler was driving crazy.”
He ‘came at the deputy’
The truck driver initially stopped for Jackson County deputies.
“He got out of the truck with a machete in his hand and came at the deputy, and the deputies backed off,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Marcia Hill said. “The driver got back in his truck and took off.”
A related crash occurred before the truck driver stopped for the last time. A car struck a Gautier police cruiser that was about to deploy sharp sticks in the truck’s path, Police Chief Dante Elbin said.
“The officer had his emergency lights on and was trying to cross the highway at an emergency lane to lay out a spike strip,” Elbin said. “One of our dogs was in the car, but neither of them had serious injuries.”
The truck was eventually disabled on the westbound shoulder of the road, surrounded by patrol cars, while deputies negotiated with him. Two of his tires reportedly had been shot out.
“We’ve got him on the phone and are trying to convince him to give up,” Ezell said earlier Wednesday.
Ezell said his Emergency Response Unit — a SWAT team — responded to the truck driver incident along with the South Mississippi Metro Enforcement Team, Gautier Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, FBI, Mobile County Sheriff’s Department and the Alabama Highway Patrol.
Ezell said he was glad the agencies worked together to end the standoff without anyone being harmed.