By Dick Lavinthal PoliceOne Staff Report (RENO, Nevada) -- A 41-year-old man suspected of three bank robberies was jammed into his drivers' seat Sunday as a 70-foot trail of spilled gasoline ignited from a spark and coursed to the 25-foot class III motor home he had crashed in a police pursuit.
"It was like from a movie, Reno Police Department Lt. Ron Donnelly told PoliceOne.com.
Accused armed bank robber Brent David Muir had a 9 mm pistol on the dash as the 12-inch wide blue flame traveled to the motor home and the vehicle burst into flames.
Officer Chris Alexander and Nevada Highway Patrol officers were extremely cautious as Alexander kicked out the vehicle's windshield.
They figured out how to pin the suspect's hands and free him from his wedged-in position, saving him from certain immolation, Donnelly said.
Muir had crashed the vehicle after officers employed the Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT). The department's heavy prisoner transport vehicle was used to strike the left rear of Muir's the motor home in a technique designed to spin around the offending vehicle, authorities said.
Instead, police said, Muir overcorrected the steering, causing the motor home to tip over. A long trail of gasoline stretched from the spot where the motor home first hit its side to the place where it came to rest.
Donnelly remarked at how many action movies invariably include scenes in which a trail of fuel ignites the just-turned-over vehicle.
In real-life, Donnelly said, most officers never see a similar occurrence.
Yet in this case a spark began the trail of ignition that officers on-scene watched in amazement as the blue flame raced right to the motor home and set it on fire.
A police scanner that Muir was using to monitor efforts to catch him, was found in the overturned motor home, Donnelly said.
Muir has been charged federally with the Dec. 2 robbery of the Wells Fargo Bank at Pyramid and Tyler ways in Sparks. He is also a suspect in two other bank robberies in Sacramento, said Joseph Dickey, special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation told the Reno Gazette.