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Olathe man pleads guilty in high-speed chase at Kansas City downtown airport

Empty airport road
Posted at 1:32 PM, Mar 08, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An Olathe man pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday after leading police in a high-speed chase down a runway at the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport during February 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Efren Torres-Rodriguez, 35, pleaded guilty to one count damaging or disrupting an international airport and one count of being a felon and an unlawful user of a controlled substance in possession of a firearm, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, Western District of Missouri.

KCPD officer were informed of a suspicious running vehicle parked near a gate at the airport on Feb. 1, 2022.

Police responded to the scene and located Torres-Rodriguez unconscious in the driver's seat of the vehicle. Officers turned off the car and opened the vehicle's door, waking the man.

Torres-Rodriguez refused orders to exit the vehicle, started the car and crashed through the gate, destroying it and seriously damaging the fence. He then drove onto the airfield of the downtown airport, according to a release from the DOJ.

An officer discharged his taser as the man drove away.

Police then pursued the man, who reached speeds of up to 100 mph during the chase.

Torres-Rodriguez then crossed into a grassy area, which is when his vehicle was became disabled.

Police removed the man from the vehicle and found a Glock .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun with an extended magazine inside the car. While the weapon and magazine did not contain ammunition, there were several rounds stored in the vehicle as well as drug paraphernalia.

Officials found that Torres-Rodriguez had a criminal record of robbery, being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm with prior violent offenses, prior to the police chase.

The DOJ says that Torres-Rodriguez admitted to law enforcement officers that he uses "methamphetamine every other day and to smoking marijuana daily since he was 15 years old."

Due to the chase, no planes were allowed to take off or land at the airport for around 40 minutes, causing two delayed departures, one delayed arrival, one aircraft to remain airborne for 50 minutes. There was also one flight cancellation and one aircraft that did not depart.

Torres-Rodriguez could receive a sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison without parole.