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Illegal burning call turns into police chase


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A routine investigation of illegal burning west of Columbus turned into a multiagency pursuit ending with a man being captured in a creek, police said.

At 6:48 a.m. Tuesday, members of Columbus Township Fire and Rescue were sent to a home about a half-mile west of the Driftwood River to check on a report of illegal burning, said township Fire Chief Rodney Ferrenberg.

Law enforcement officers are routinely asked to accompany firefighters during calls on illegal burns, and Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Deputies Chad Swank and Jeff Wehmiller arrived at 4965 W. County Road 200N shortly after 7 a.m., Ferrenberg said.

The deputies immediately recognized a person at the house as Sean Cobb, 33, of Columbus, who was wanted on two arrest warrants. Cobb ran into a nearby wooded area, said Chief Deputy Maj. Todd Noblitt of the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department.

Swank, Wehmiller and Ferrenburg chased Cobb, and additional deputies and officers from the Columbus Police Department and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources were called in to help with the search, Noblitt said.

Once the searchers were confident they had Cobb surrounded, K-9 Officer Jessica Pendleton and her police dog, Bolt, were brought in to track him down, Noblitt said. Shortly after the dog was let loose, police found Cobb hiding in a creek bed, and he was arrested at gunpoint, Noblitt said.

The incident Tuesday is the fourth time in the past three months that officers have tried to chase down Cobb. He successfully escaped his pursuers in September but was captured with the use of a stun gun near the Driftwood River Oct. 2, according to court records and media reports.

Cobb, whose last known address is 4335 W. County Road 500S, is wanted on two warrants charging him with resisting law enforcement and failure to appear for a probation hearing. As a result of the pursuit, he now faces an additional felony charge of resisting law enforcement, Noblitt said.

Formal charges against Cobb, if any, will be determined by the office of Bartholomew County Prosecutor Bill Nash.

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