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Suspect runs, fights ... goes to jail

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By Vince Luecke

Bristow man jailed for battery against officer, criminal recklessness with deadly weapon; Lehmkuhler, police canine escape serious injury

PERRY COUNTY - A Bristow man fled from an Indiana State Police trooper Thursday night, authorities said, throwing a tank filled with anhydrous ammonia from his pickup truck before crashing the vehicle and lashing out at the officer and his canine partner with a heavy aluminum flashlight.

Lawrence R. Sturgeon, 43, of 6075 Sinai Road, is charged with six felonies, including aggravated battery, a Class B felony, and criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon, a Class C felony.

According to court records and information obtained by officers, the pursuit began around 11 p.m. when Trooper Mark Lehmkuhler attempted to stop a Chevrolet S-10 pickup driven by Sturgeon near Boyd Road. Sturgeon refused to pull over, authorities allege, and continued traveling toward Rocky Point on Indiana 66, despite the wailing siren and flashing lights behind him.

Lehmkuhler reported seeing the driver throw something from the truck's window after turning onto Scout Road from Indiana 66.

A short time later, the truck collided with a tree on the right side of the gravel roadway and the driver fled along a wooded trail. Lehmkuhler followed on foot, police said, repeatedly ordering Sturgeon to stop. The trooper then released his German shepherd, Brote. Sturgeon stopped suddenly, police said, causing the dog to halt his advance. Sturgeon allegedly ran off again and as Lehmkuhler tried to restrain the man, the suspect allegedly tried to strike the trooper. At some point in the struggle, Sturgeon grabbed Lehmkuhler's MagLite flashlight and as the two entered a grass field on the east side of the roadway, hit the dog. Lehmkuhler approached Sturgeon with a collapsible baton but as he did, police said, Sturgeon struck Lehmkuhler in the head with the flashlight.

Lehmkuhler was eventually able to subdue Sturgeon and other officers quickly arrived on the scene. Without his radio, Lehmkuhler had fired two shots from his service weapon into the air to alert other officers to his whereabouts.

Lehmkuhler was taken to Perry County Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for a laceration to his head and pain to his knees. He was later released. The dog was taken to Lamar veterinarian Kevin Kennedy that night, examined and released.

Sturgeon was treated for minor injuries to his face and lodged in the Perry County Jail. In addition to aggravated battery and criminal recklessness, he faces a separate count of battery on a police officer, two counts of resisting law enforcement and possession of anhydrous ammonia and paraphernalia.

An inspection of the tank allegedly thrown out of the truck showed it contained anhydrous ammonia, a key ingredient in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Troopers also reported finding a glass pipe in the truck.

Several other troopers were on the scene, including Heath Carkuff, Sgt. Jon Deer and Detective Rob Priest. Tell City and Cannelton officers also assisted, including Cannelton Police Chief Kenny Kellems and Tell City Patrolman Derrick Lawalin, that city's canine officer. Lawalin removed Brote from Lehmkuhler's car and transported the animal to Lamar.

Formal charges are expected this week. Sturgeon was being held Friday on $15,000 bail.