Altoona Car Chase
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An Altoona man is behind bars after police say he broke into a soda machine early Monday morning and then lead officers on a car chase through the city. According to a criminal complaint, Raymond Birch is facing a slew of felonies and misdemeanors, including fleeing or attempting to elude an officer and driving under the influence. Police say officers were called to Martin's Grocery on East Chestnut Avenue Monday around 3 a.m. after a witness said they saw Birch using a crowbar to break into a soda machine behind the building. According to the complaint, when police arrived, Birch was spotted in a pickup truck leaving the scene. Police tried to initiate a traffic stop, but Birch continued to drive away and a pursuit ensued, the complaint says. Police say officers chased Birch through the city, and Birch ran multiple stop signs and crashed into an occupied vehicle on 3rd Street, injuring the person inside. Police say Birch crashed into a parked car on 3rd Street, too, but still didn't stop. Eventually police say Birch turned onto Walnut Avenue and entered the grounds of Cherry Grove apartments and continued to drive through the complex before hitting a sidewalk. According to the complaint, Birch's vehicle jumped the sidewalk went through the yard and then struck the fence. Police say Birch then got out of the truck and ignored police commands to stop, before being tackled about 150 feet from the vehicle. Police say Birch continued to resist, but was eventually placed in handcuffs and taken into custody. According to the complaint, officers smelled alcohol on Birch�s breath and found an opened cold can of Wicked Reds Black Cherry in the front seat cup holder of his truck. Police say the soda machine was severely damaged and officers did not find any money in the machine. They say Birch had $34.23 on him when he was taken into custody, which was put into evidence.