A 52-year-old man was charged Friday with assault on a federal officer for his part in a hubcap theft this week during which an FBI agent shot into a car trying to run down officers, authorities said.
The suspect, William Tapes, had fled the crash scene Monday but surrendered to police Thursday after being identified by a passenger in the car who apparently was wounded during the gunfire, the FBI said.
According to a criminal complaint filed Friday, FBI Special Agents observed an individual later identified as Tapes kneeling near a vehicle’s tires and suspected that Tapes was stealing the center of the chrome wheels on that vehicle. Tapes was then seen getting into the driver’s seat of a sedan in which two other individuals were passengers.
As agents approached the sedan to talk to the occupants, they say they identified themselves as “police” and “FBI.”
When the agents commanded Tapes to turn off the engine and get out of the car, Tapes reportedly put the car in reverse and abruptly backed up. The agents continued to direct Tapes and the passengers in the sedan to get out of the car, but none complied with the commands. After several seconds, the sedan, which was being driven by Tapes, lurched forward, stopped briefly, and then maneuvered around an FBI vehicle which had been parked approximately 10 to 20 feet in front of the sedan.
As Tapes maneuvered around the FBI vehicle, he allegedly headed directly toward one of the agents. That agent jumped out of the way to avoid being run over and fired his handgun into the sedan.
The complaint alleges that the sedan then left the parking lot at a high speed and was next seen by the agents after it had been involved in an accident. According to the complaint, the agents saw one of the passengers of the sedan at the scene of the accident, but neither Tapes nor the other passenger remained at the scene. A witness reported that the driver of the sedan crawled out of the driver’s side window and left the scene of the accident on foot.
According to investigators, friends and family of Tapes reached out to the FBI’s Chicago office on Wednesday in an effort to arrange for his surrender, which occurred Thursday afternoon at the Chicago field office.
Tapes appeared Friday morning in federal court, where he was ordered to be held without bond pending his next scheduled court appearance, which is set for April 3, 2013.
Investigation of the incident and the search for Tapes was aided by the Chicago Police Department.
If convicted, Tapes faces a possible maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The Chicago Tribune contributed to this report.