Authorities Arrest Man After Standoff, High Speed Chase
By Jeff Raasch & Addison Speck, Reporters
LINN COUNTY, Iowa - More than a dozen charges will be filed against a Cedar Rapids man who led authorities on a chase in two counties and then barricaded himself inside his garage.
Gary A. Arntzen, 61, was arrested around 11:15 p.m. Wednesday after deputies wearing SWAT gear broke into the garage and used a Taser when he wouldn't comply with orders. Four police vehicles were damaged in the ordeal, but no one was injured.
Arntzen was in Shellsburg just before 7 p.m. when police tried to stop him for speeding, authorities said. He would not pull over, and a chase ensued that would last about 90 minutes before concluding at his residence near the corner of Highway 30 and Sisley Grove Road SW.
Authorities said Arntzen weaved between Linn and Benton Counties in the Shellsburg and Palo areas. Deputies from both counties were in pursuit, along with Shellsburg police and Iowa State Patrol troopers.
Linn County Sheriff's Col. John Stuelke said most of the chase took place on gravel roads. "Normally in chases you might see speeds of 100 miles an hour, this chase had speeds between 65 to 70 miles and hours," said Stuelke.
He said stop sticks were used several times, but were unsuccessful. "The problem that you have on a gravel road is you can lay those down in the roadway but he would just take the ditch and go around them," Stuelke said. He added that laying the strips on gravel road is more dangerous because officers do not have shoulders to pull off on when laying them down.
Arntzen made his way south toward his residence. Around 8:20 p.m, after driving through a cemetery and a corn field, he stopped at his residence, 11200 16th Ave. SW, got out and ran into a detached garage, authorities said.
Stuelke said Arntzen locked himself in the garage and a standoff continued for nearly three hours. About 20 police vehicles lined the gravel road leading to his residence. Officers communicated through the door with Arntzen throughout the standoff, Stuelke said.
"Essentially, we just attempted to talk him out of the building," Stuelke said. "He just wanted us to leave, but we weren't going to do that."
Stuelke said Arntzen claimed he did not have any weapons, but as a precaution, the Linn County sheriff's office Immediate Response Unit was activated. Arntzen's wife was home at the time. Officers advised her of what they were doing and she was unharmed.
With negotiations going nowhere, the officers in protective gear broke into the garage around 11:10 p.m. Deputies used four stun grenades in an attempt to disorient Arntzen. Stuelke said Arntzen would not get on the ground, and a Taser was used to subdue him. He did not have a weapon and was taken into custody without further incident.
Authorities said squad cars from all four law enforcement agencies were damaged. A state patrol trooper's car was damaged when the trooper attempted a PIT maneuver. A Benton County squad car had damage to the undercarriage when it ran into a ditch while stop sticks were being deployed.
Also during the chase, Arntzen struck a Linn County squad car, causing about $5,000 in damage, Stuelke said. It led to a charge of second-degree criminal mischief, since it was during the commission of a crime.
Other charges against Arntzen include eluding, reckless driving, careless driving, speeding, interference with official acts, failure to obey traffic signals and improper lane usage. Stuelke said he was unsure why Arntzen would not pull over initially.
KCRG asked Stuelke how officers determine when to keep going or just let the person go. He said location, time of day, and safety of everyone involved plays a role. "If its 3:15 in the afternoon and we are chasing someone and they are headed for an elementary school obviously we would terminate that chase ," said Stuelke.
It is not the first time Arntzen has been involved a police chase. According to Gazette archives, Arntzen was arrested in 1973 following a police chase in southwest Cedar Rapids that also originated after he was caught speeding.
Arntzen has a short criminal history, according to online court records. He was charged with assault on a peace officer in 2005 after he threw his 12-pound dog at a sheriff's deputy. No one was injured.
Arntzen remained in jail and was expected to make his initial court appearance Thursday morning.