Manatee deputies: Stolen motorcycle suspect reached 146 mph in I-75 chase

Posted by MARC R. MASFERRER on May 21, 2014 

MANATEE -- A man was arrested Tuesday evening after he led deputies in Manatee and Sarasota on a high-speed chase on a stolen motorcycle, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

During the chase, in which the suspect reached speeds as high as 146 mph, a backpack containing a high amount of methamphetamine fell off the motorcycle, according to a news release. The suspect also struck and slightly injured a Sarasota deputy before he was arrested.

The chase started about 8 p.m., when a Manatee deputy in the 5700 block of 15th Street East spotted a motorcycle and confirmed that it had been reported stolen.

Once more units, including the sheriff's helicopter, arrived in the area, deputies attempted to make a felony stop, but the suspect fled, according to the report.

The suspect, later identified as Brian Tharp, 39, of Venice, made his way to Interstate 75 and headed south into Sarasota County.

While on the interstate, the backpack fell or was dropped from the motorcycle. Deputies later recovered it and found that it held a "trafficking amount" of methamphetamine, according to the sheriff's office.

While on the interstate, the suspect was clocked as going as fast as 146 mph. Eventually, he reached Venice, where he made his way to U.S. 41 and turned north.

Near Sarasota Memorial Hospital, 1700 S. Tamiami Trail, the suspect got stuck in traffic. As Sarasota deputies converged on him, he rapidly accelerated and struck a deputy, slightly injuring him, according to the report.

Other deputies shot him with their Tasers, and the suspect was arrested.

Tharp faces numerous charges, including grand theft auto; fleeing to elude; trafficking in methamphetamine and other drug charges; aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer; possession of a weapon by a convicted felon; resisting arrest; reckless driving; operating a motorcycle without a license; and driving with a suspended license, according to the report.

He is being held without bond at the Sarasota County jail.

This is Tharp's 23rd arrest in Sarasota County. Of those, he was held in contempt of court seven times and violated probation six times. Records show Tharp had been released from the Sarasota jail on Saturday after posting bonds totaling $80,000 in connection with an arrest May 14 on charges of possession of synthetic narcotics with intent to distribute; grand vehicle theft; and driving with a suspended license.

He also was arrested once in 2009 and twice in 2010, all in Sarasota County.

According to Florida Department of Corrections, Tharp was released from state prison in November 2008, after serving eight months for drug possession, driving with a suspended or revoked license and fleeing law enforcement, for crimes in Sarasota and Charlotte counties.

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