Illinois man accused of carjacking vehicle in Columbus

An Illinois man was arrested after he was accused of carjacking a vehicle from a west-side Columbus gas station and leading Indiana State Police troopers on a pursuit.

Columbus police were sent to the 3300 block of West Jonathan More Pike at noon on Sunday who spoke with the victim who said an unknown man approached with his hand in his jacket as if holding a firearm, said Lt. Matt Harris, Columbus Police Department spokesman.

The man threatened to harm the vehicle owner if he did not give the suspect, later identified as Matthew Kuecher, 33, Orland Park, Ill., the keys to a Dodge Caravan.

A short time later, Indiana State Police Trooper Bryce Harris saw Kuecher driving in the Caravan south on Interstate 65 near the 44 mile marker. When the trooper attempted to stop the vehicle, a pursuit began at speeds up to 100 mph.

Kuecher left the interstate at the 36 mile marker and later traveled north on U.S. 31, before he was stopped by Trooper Matt Halley and Trooper Bryce Harris, police said.

Kuecher was taken to the Bartholomew County Jail on preliminary charges of felony auto theft, felony intimidation, and misdemeanor battery, police said. Officials in Jackson County are considering charges against Kuecher of resisting law enforcement in a vehicle and reckless driving.

For more on this story, see Tuesday’s Republic.