He fled from a shoplifting scene in a semi, police say. He avoided arrest for 3 days.

Michael Lee Mateo
Michael Lee Mateo

A man who fled from police in a semi-truck after a shoplifting incident at Walmart has been arrested during his release from a hospital, police said.

Police arrested Michael Lee Mateo, 26, of Pawleys Island, South Carolina, on Tuesday on charges of felony eluding and misdemeanor shoplifting.

He’s the man who led officers on a low-speed pursuit Saturday and swerved into oncoming traffic before his blue big-rig got stuck in sand, Biloxi Police Maj. Christopher De Back said.

Mateo was in the area to make a delivery when he stopped at the Walmart on CT Switzer Drive, De Back said.

Store personnel called police on a shoplifting complaint about 1:41 p.m. Walmart had accused Mateo of taking food and miscellaneous items.

Officers reported Mateo was getting in his truck when they arrived, and said he refused orders to stop. Police said they followed him to U.S. 90, where he crossed the median into oncoming traffic and drove on the sidewalk.

De Back said Mateo drove at speeds of up to 50 mph before officers forcibly took him into custody.

Mateo had tried to make a U-turn at White Avenue and got stuck in the sand. Officers reported he refused orders to get out of the truck and he put the semi in reverse, striking a police vehicle.

An officer fired shots into the cab of the truck and Mateo still refused to get out, police said. An officer broke a window in the truck and pulled him out. Mateo and the officer were cut by broken glass.

De Back said Mateo was taken to a hospital for treatment of what appeared to be minor injuries. Investigators were waiting to arrest him when he was discharged from a hospital about 11:40 a.m. Tuesday.

Officers booked him at the police department and took him to the Harrison County jail.

Mateo was being held on a $25,000 bond set by Justice Court Judge Bruce Strong.

Police want to hear from anyone with information about this investigation. Call Biloxi Police Dispatch at 228-392-0641, the Criminal Investigations Division at 228-435-6112 or Crime Stoppers at 1-877-787-5898.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews