Crime

I-5 standoff suspect recalls being upset but not why he was driving 100 mph, charges say

Suspect surrenders after high-speed chase leads to collision and standoff on I-5

A high speed chase led to a collision and standoff on I5 near Gravelly Lake Drive Southwest in Lakewood. The standoff closed the highway for several hours. The standoff ended peacefully after the suspect surrendered to police.
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A high speed chase led to a collision and standoff on I5 near Gravelly Lake Drive Southwest in Lakewood. The standoff closed the highway for several hours. The standoff ended peacefully after the suspect surrendered to police.

A man suspected of sparking a high-speed chase that ended in wreck with a semi and a standoff with police on Interstate 5 in Lakewood was charged Friday.

Prosecutors charged 33-year-old Jeffrey Williams Macheta with attempting to elude police, reckless driving and escape from community custody.

He pleaded not guilty at arraignment Friday morning, and Pierce County Superior Court Judge Stephanie Arend set bail at $250,000.

It’s still not clear what led to the chain of events Tuesday that shut down the freeway and caused backups for hours.

Macheta told investigators “he was driving around and became upset, but he could not remember why he started driving fast,” the declaration for determination of probable cause reads. “He said he did not remember a lot after colliding with the semi truck but remembers being upset.”

jeffrey macheta.jpg
Jeffrey Macheta, May 2018 Washington State Department of Corrections

He also allegedly said he’d used methamphetamine several days prior and “mentioned he previously used heroin, but has not used in weeks,” the charging papers say.

They give this account of what happened Tuesday:

A Lakewood police officer noticed a gray Toyota Sequoia speeding in and out of traffic on southbound I-5.

Macheta was driving the Sequoia roughly 100 mph, and the officer gave chase.

At one point Macehta lost control and slid through a grassy median and onto a freeway ramp, then took the ramp back onto I-5.

He swerved across traffic throughout the brief chase, which forced other drivers to brake and swerve to avoid a wreck, including the officer who was chasing him.

The officer saw that Macheta was smoking a cigarette, and he hit his steering wheel and shouted something that the officer couldn’t hear.

The chase continued, and Macheta started driving on the shoulder, which became too narrow for the vehicle.

That’s when he turned across all the freeway lanes and hit the semi about 4 p.m., which sent the big rig through a concrete barrier and into the northbound lanes.

The semi driver was not injured.

Meanwhile, the Sequoia was pinned between the semi and the barrier, and a damaged radiator fogged up its windows.

Macheta yelled and cursed at police from inside and kicked at the doors.

And as officers approached the vehicle, they saw him holding a knife or a screw driver to his throat.

They heard him yell, “Come on and get me,” according to the charging papers.

He ignored orders to put the knife down, and he made motions as if to cut or stab his neck.

The standoff that followed ended shortly after 5 p.m., when an officer convinced the man to surrender.

Macheta was on Department of Corrections supervision from May 2018 until January 2019, “when he failed to report and a DOC warrant issued for his arrest,” the charging papers say.

Court records indicate he has a history of methamphetamine addiction and convictions for car theft.

He was convicted of third-degree assault and felony harassment in 2015 in King County.

In that case, he and his brother, were accused of assaulting a woman he’d dated.

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Alexis Krell covers local, state and federal court cases that affect Pierce County. She started covering courts in 2016. Before that she wrote about crime and breaking news for almost four years as The News Tribune’s night reporter.


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