Family says 'stupid mistake' led to man suspected of stealing - KCTV5 News

Family says 'stupid mistake' led to man suspected of stealing FedEx truck

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19-year-old Caleb Michael Ownby 19-year-old Caleb Michael Ownby

Many tuned in to watch the intense chase of a stolen FedEx truck. Now, a man suspected of being behind the wheel has been charged.

Relatives of 19-year-old Caleb Michael Ownby said he's never done anything before like what happened Wednesday. They said it was a stupid mistake that began with a fight with his girlfriend that somehow snow-balled out of control.

For nearly 30 minutes many were glued to their television sets and mobile devices as they watched live coverage of a man driving a FedEx truck stolen from a gas station. The driver went into both Kansas and Missouri while he took police on a wild chase.

At one point officers almost had the man when they pointed their guns at him while the truck was stuck at a light, but the man was determined not to give up and sped off as soon as traffic started moving again.

"Ownby almost struck several cars and it was apparent he showed no regard for the public's safety," Clay County prosecutors wrote in court documents.

A short time later, police used stop sticks, sparks and flames were seen coming from the back of the truck and the man was finally captured in a Prairie Village, KS, neighborhood.

The following day, Ownby made his first court appearance in Johnson County court. He was charged with one count of theft of a delivery truck valued between $25,000 and $100,000, one felony count of resisting a lawful stop by fleeing and creating a substantial risk of serious injury or death, one felony count of tampering with a motor vehicle and one misdemeanor count of driving without a license.

When asked in court if he wanted to hire his own attorney or be appointed one, Ownby said that he would hire one. However, when the hearing was over, his relatives - who did not want to go on camera - said they had no idea how he was planning to pay for a lawyer.

Ownby's family said the whole thing was a stupid mistake that started when he got into a fight with his girlfriend at the Ameristar Casino. They said he walked across the street to a Shell Service Station at 8801 NE Birmingham Rd. and, since he didn't have a ride and was cold, took action when he spotted the FedEx driver fill up his truck with gas and go inside. The driver had left the keys in the ignition.

His family said it was a crime of convenience and that Ownby was looking for transportation. They said he was never after the packages in the truck.

Court documents also show that there are differing counts regarding whether Ownby's family knew about the stolen truck and its contents.

A probable cause statement said they got a tip that stolen merchandise from the FedEx truck was being held at a Kansas City, MO, home. Ownby's mother told police when they questioned her that she didn't know he had stolen the truck and stored packages from it in her home and in a back shed. But interviews with other family members said that she was carrying a new television Wednesday afternoon and stated "Take this! I have to go. I hope Caleb doesn't go to jail. He stole a FedEx truck. Don't tell anyone."

Court documents said that officers recovered boxes with FedEx logos on them in a shed behind the family home, in the basement, in a playhouse in the backyard and behind the shed of a neighbor's home.

Ownby's bond was set at $10,000. His next court day is scheduled for the morning of Dec. 12.

As far as all the packages that were in the stolen FedEx truck, a company spokesman said in a written statement, "All packages are accounted for and customers can expect them by the end of the day."

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