Elkhart man accused of trying to grab officer's gun

ELKHART — An Elkhart man was arrested after police say he led a vehicle chase and tried to take an officer’s gun.

Joseph Barber Sr., 47, was arrested Monday and charged with disarming a law enforcement officer, a Level 5 felony, and resisting law enforcement in a vehicle, a Level 6 felony. He was also charged with driving while suspended and leaving an accident scene, both misdemeanors.

He was booked in the Elkhart County Correctional Facility on $25,000 bond. His charges together carry a maximum sentence of about 10 years.

According to court documents:

The vehicle pursuit started after an Elkhart Police officer saw a white and purple Chevrolet Tahoe leaving a north Elkhart address tied to suspected drug activity around 2 p.m. The SUV was also believed to possibly be connected with a stolen vehicle with a false vehicle identification number.

The officer tried to get behind the Tahoe but it turned south onto Highland Boulevard, accelerated quickly and drove through the parking lot of Highland Baptist Church. It continued eastbound, off-road, then drove south and stopped in a grassy area.

The officer pulled in behind the SUV and activated his lights. The Tahoe got back onto northbound Highland Boulevard, then turned west onto Plainfield Drive and sped up to 30 to 40 mph as the officer followed with his siren on.

The vehicle continued past a dead-end into an open field then into the muddy backyard of a Plainfield Drive property. The initial officer lost sight of it, but other officers who were involved in the pursuit saw the Tahoe crash through the closed gate behind 1400 W. Bristol St.

The SUV continued westbound on West Bristol Street and then C.R. 10 West. It stopped in the parking lot at 27991 C.R. 10 and Barber got out and fled on foot.

He ran north toward Northwood Drive and officers found him hiding under a tarp that was covering a tractor in a backyard. A police sergeant tried to drag him out from under the tarp, which is when Barber grabbed the officer’s holstered handgun.

The sergeant ordered Barber to let go and used a stun gun on him. He also tried to push Barber away and toward the ground, while Barber continued to hold onto the handgun.

He eventually let go, and was handcuffed after the officer got him onto the ground.

Barber later told police he fled because of child support issues and because he thought there might be a warrant for his arrest.

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