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Pepper balls pry fugitive from blackberries

Charles Raymond Caldwell, 45, was arrested after a three-hour stand-off with Ashland police starting at approximately 6:55 a.m. Thursday on Mistletoe Road, according to police reports.

Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara said Caldwell was spotted by a police officer entering Ashland from Exit 11 after eluding the California Highway Patrol on Interstate 5.

“As I understand it, the report was there were three California Highway Patrol cars in pursuit of him, but I don’t know where it originated or how long they were chasing him for,” O’Meara said.

The resident of the city of Mt. Shasta, California, eluded Ashland police, then was spotted by Police Officer Lisa Evans. Rather than pursuing him, she followed him. She watched him abandon the stolen vehicle on Mistletoe Road and disappear into a throng of blackberry bushes.

Evans called for backup because the man had a knife.

“The officer very wisely did not pursue him, but instead called for additional officers to set up a perimeter,” O’Meara said. “The initial officer, Officer Evans, kept observation on the place where he went in, so she knew that he was still in there.”

Ashland police brought in a dog and made a perimeter around the man but didn’t release the dog due to the weapon.

Eventually, tactical partners at the Medford Police Department were contacted to bring in their SWAT vehicle.

They were able to drive in closer to the man and deploy pepper balls — like pepper spray, once it is deployed, it releases an irritant.

This eventually brought the man out. He was arrested and lodged at the on misdemeanor charges of unlawful use of a motor vehicle, second-degree disorderly conduct, interference with a police officer and attempting to elude a police officer.

Ashland police arrested Caldwell on a felony charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and misdemeanor charges of second-degree disorderly conduct, interfering with police and attempt to elude police on foot. He was booked into Jackson County Jail, then released at approximately 8:45 p.m. the same day due to overcrowding.

Contact Daily Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at cfowlkes@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.

(Aug. 13, 4:20 p.m.: Story updated with arrestee's name and more information about the charges.)

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