Felony tampering, resisting arrest by fleeing charges filed in GCSD pursuit

By: 
Dave Marner
Managing editor

The next time Ashton Blake Cook, 21, is told to “please stand up” it will be this morning for his scheduled arraignment on two felony charges before Associate Circuit Judge Ada Brehe-Krueger.

Cook is charged in a felony Gasconade County warrant issued Friday in connection with a police pursuit Thursday afternoon across portions of southeast-central Gasconade County near Rosebud.

Cook, of Bland, is charged with one class D felony count alleging vehicle tampering in the first degree and a class E felony count of resisting arrest by fleeing a felony traffic stop. Cook remains jailed in Crawford County. A cash or surety bond was set at $25,000 following his arrest by Gasconade County Sheriff’s deputies.

Sheriff’s personnel were attempting to stop Cook, who was driving a pickup truck reported stolen the day before from Owensville, on Route T near Hafertafe Road.

Cook fled north on Route T and crossed U.S. 50 without stopping. He drove north out of town on Rosebud Road to Pfeiffer and then back south again on Rosebud Road.  Sheriff John Romanus and his chief deputy, Capt. Mark Williams initiated the pursuit around 12:52 p.m. 

Deputy Robert J. Downey would successfully set a spike strip up on Rosebud Road but Cook managed to continue south back into and through town, again crossing U.S. 50 without slowing down or stopping. The right-front tire was punctured by the spike strip and would eventually come completely off the rim.

“It appeared as though Cook had total disregard for the safety of pedestrians on and near Highway 50 and Rosebud Road,” wrote Downey in his probable cause statement submitted as a request for the felony warrant.

He continued south out of town on T to Estes Road. He cut across to Niewald Road and continued south toward the Soap Creek slab. That’s where Cook encountered Thomas D. Carroll, 68, of Gerald, who was heading north on Niewald during a lunch break from helping his friend Mike Dintelman brick his new house.

Rosebud Police Chief Mason Griffith had joined in the on the pursuit after Downey spiked the tire. Griffith was now behind Cook as Carroll approached. In the ensuing cloud of dust created by Cook’s flight, Griffith got by Carroll but Downey did not.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper Bruce Baker noted in his report on the crash that Downey took evasive action as the last moment in an attempt to avoid contact with Carroll’s Dodge Ram 2500 pickup. They met in the cloud of dust, left-front to left-front ends. Downey swerved right at the last second and ended up in the field. Both vehicles had extensive left front-end damage.

Cook continued on Niewald Road and northbound onto Pump Station Road heading back toward Highway 28. At one point near the 3400 block of Pump Station Road he cut across a hay field, crossed a private gravel driveway, and through a 5-strand barbed-wire fence, destroying three posts and breaking all five wires.

He continued across a pasture owned by Jerry Brown before slamming into an earthen terrace and coming to a stop. He fled northwesterly, according to Griffith and the manhunt that followed included a MSHP helicopter pilot, deputies from Franklin and Gasconade counties, and a K-9 unit from Osage County.

Osage K-9 handler Deputy Richard Jarvis and “Zed” tracked Cook for about a mile before losing his trail. Jarvis was treated by Gerald Area Ambulance District personnel for heat-related issues after he returned to his truck with his Dutch Shepherd.

Around 4:15 p.m., a motorist on Niewald spotted a man matching Cook in Soap Creek near the Niewald slab crossing. Williams and Deputy David Mabe began a foot search from the slab — Williams walking up the creek bed, Mabe along the field line —moving upstream toward Highway 28.

Deputies Hobie Brown and Justin Bridges entered the creek valley off of Highway 28 and about a mile below where they entered they came across Cook. He was arrested without incident at 4:56 p.m.

A farmer, James Estes, delivered the deputies and Cook back to the Highway 28 box culvert where they had begun their search.

The Dodge pickup truck Cook is alleged to have stolen was reported missing from South Sixth Street in Owensville. Adam Hengstenberg told police it was taken from his back yard sometime between 11 p.m. July 8 and 10:30 a.m. July 9. The keys had been left in the ignition, according to Owensville police. 

Barbed wire was wrapped around the right-front wheel rim.

A female passenger was reportedly in the vehicle with Cook throughout much of the pursuit. Romanus said Tuesday they believe there was a passenger with Cook but at this point he could not confirm if it was a female or a male passenger. Cook was not talking and no new charges have been filed since Friday related to the pursuit or other thefts believed to be connected with him.

Cook has felony convictions for drug possession, burglary and damage to jail property along with several misdemeanors in Gasconade, Crawford, Osage and Maries counties.