CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Police searched Friday for a man who they said slipped his handcuffs during a traffic stop, stole a squad car and led deputies on a chase before ditching the car and taking a loaded rifle.
Fidel Perez, 39, has been at large for more than a day after outrunning Nueces County sheriff's deputies who pursued him in a sport-utility vehicle, authorities said Thursday night.
During the Wednesday evening traffic stop, a deputy found what he suspected was stolen copper wire in Perez's trunk and summoned a supervisor for backup. Perez was cuffed and placed in the supervisor's car.
While deputies were questioning another man during the traffic stop, authorities believe Perez slipped the handcuffs under his feet, climbed into the front seat of the car, which did not have a cage, and drove off.
Corpus Christi police found the abandoned patrol car about 30 minutes later. A semiautomatic rifle was missing from the car's trunk, Sheriff Jim Kaelin said. The weapon, a .223-caliber AR-15, had one magazine that held about 18 rounds, Kaelin said.
Police with dogs and a helicopter searched the area near the abandoned car but found nothing.
The deputy and supervisor appeared to have followed department policy during the traffic stop, Kaelin said, but the matter is under review.