The 19-year-old man accused of stealing a Dallas Fire-Rescue ambulance earlier this month visited the fire station the day before and inquired about becoming a firefighter, police say.
Felix Lopez is currently facing a second-degree felony charge of theft of property after being accused of stealing a $230,000 ambulance from Dallas Fire Station 53 on April 5 and leading multiple police agencies on an hourslong chase that only ended when the emergency vehicle got stuck off-road with flat tires.
In an arrest affidavit obtained by NBC 5 Friday, firefighter Paul Richter, who is stationed at Fire Station 53, said Lopez visited the station the day before the theft and was asking questions about becoming a DFR firefighter.
Richter said Lopez was wearing a mask, gloves and had a wound on his forehead and that something about him made him "very uncomfortable."
He added they also saw the man while working a crash along the 3000 block of Buckner Boulevard and that he asked firefighters to call police because he said he'd been assaulted.
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On the morning of the theft, Richter said firefighters had returned from a call and returned to the garage a few minutes later to find the ambulance missing.
Firefighters notified police and Air 1 about the theft and said that while they did not see who took the ambulance, Lopez stuck out in their mind as a possible suspect.
Before investigating police officers left Fire Station 53, a patrol officer running radar spotted the stolen ambulance on Belt Line Road headed toward Interstate 20 and began following the vehicle. The officer attempted to stop the driver but the driver refused to stop and continued driving erratically before cutting across an open field to get onto the highway.
Dallas police stopped following the ambulance on the ground and allowed Air 1 to maintain the pursuit from the air.
Over the course of the next hour, officers from other agencies attempted to stop the driver without success.
After stop sticks were deployed, retractable strips with spikes designed to flatten car tires and end chases, the ambulance's tires went flat and the driver was forced to stop the vehicle while driving off-road.
The man tried to run from police on foot but was cornered in a fenced-in area and was taken into custody by several officers near Joyce Way and Tension Lane.
According to his arrest affidavit, during his arrest Lopez "was combative with officers, cursing" and attempted to open the door of the police car he'd been placed in. Police said he attempted to remove his seatbelt, switch his handcuffs to the front of his body, and chewed off the microphone in the back of the squad car.
Police said Lopez has a long criminal history with stolen vehicles "but no enhanceable charges at this time." Police said Lopez may face additional charges for resisting arrest.
In a separate, unrelated incident from February 2020, an ambulance was taken from the same fire station and was driven to Louisiana.