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Olathe man indicted for airport runway police chase


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An Olathe, Kansas, man who allegedly led police officers on a high-speed chase down a runway at the downtown airport has been indicted by a federal grand jury for disrupting airport operations as well as illegally possessing a firearm and methamphetamine. 

Efren Torres-Rodriguez, 34, was charged in a four-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Missouri on May 18. He was arrested Wednesday. 

Kansas City, Missouri, police officers were notified of a suspicious car, a Dodge Charger, parked near a gate at the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport on Feb. 1, 2022. When officers arrived, they allegedly found Torres-Rodriguez passed out in the driver’s seat of the running car. Officers turned off the car and opened the door, which woke up Torres-Rodriguez. 

Officers ordered Torres-Rodriguez out of the car, but he allegedly refused. Instead, Torres-Rodriguez allegedly started the vehicle and drove away, crashing through the gate to the airfield. Torres-Rodriguez allegedly drove at speeds up to 100 miles per hour down the airport runway, with officers in pursuit, and drove on a tarmac on the west side of the airfield. When he attempted to cross over the airstrip into a grassy area, his vehicle became inoperable. Officers removed Torres-Rodriguez from the vehicle and placed him under arrest. Officers allegedly found a clear plastic bag in his pants pocket that contained methamphetamine. 

When officers searched Torres-Rodriguez’s vehicle, they found a Glock .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun with an extended magazine, which were both empty of ammunition, under the driver’s seat. They also allegedly found several rounds of ammunition and drug paraphernalia. 

Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition. Torres-Rodriguez has prior felony convictions for possession of a firearm with a prior violent offense, for being a felon in possession of a firearm, and for robbery. 

The federal indictment charges Torres-Rodriguez with one count of damaging and interfering with an air navigation facility, one count of damaging and disrupting an international airport, one count of being a felon and drug user in possession of a firearm, and one count of possessing methamphetamine. 

The charges contained in the indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri noted in a press release. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence. 

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Trey Alford. It was investigated by the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department and the FBI.