JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The truck driver at the center of a standoff on Interstate 10 Wednesday is behind bars, charged with fleeing from police and a number of other offenses.
Michael Troy Mack of Baton Rouge is charged with felony pursuit by Jackson County and may be facing similar charges from Mobile County Sheriff’s Department, Alabama Highway Patrol, and Mississippi Highway Patrol.
Authorities say the pursuit began around 9 a.m. in Alabama when Mack, 35, ran an ambulance off the road. With Alabama authorities pursuing him, he continued down I-10, crossing into Mississippi and running another truck off the road. Witnesses say Mack then side-swiped another 18-wheeler near the Pascagoula River Bridge.
At one point, Mack stopped for a Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, who had joined in the pursuit. But authorities say he quickly got back in the cab of his truck and drove off again.
The chase continued, coming to an end at mile marker 61 just east of the Gautier-Vancleave Road exit. Authorities quickly blocked off exits from Moss Point to Ocean Springs, stopping any other traffic from coming through the area.
“The 18-wheeler came in contact with three other vehicles on his way between Alabama and the area the pursuit ended,” said Chase Elkins with the Mississippi Highway Patrol.
While a Gautier Police officer tried to lay down spike strips across the interstate, another vehicle in the eastbound lane hit the officer’s patrol car. Authorities said a police canine was in the patrol car but both he and the officer were uninjured. Eventually, officers were able to flatten two tires on the 18-wheeler, preventing Mack from driving any further.
A few dozen cars in the westbound lane got stuck on the interstate, sitting there for hours as law enforcement from multiple agencies tried to get the driver out of the truck. After more than four hours, officers deployed smoke and tear gas canisters in the cab of the truck and were able to get Mack out. Neither Mack nor any law enforcement officers were injured.
Officials are still trying to figure out what caused Mack’s actions.
“I’m not sure what was going through his mind to cause him to stop between the time he initiated law enforcement and the time where the pursuit ended,” Elkins said.
According to Elkins, authorities knew Mack had a machete. It was not knowing what else he had that caused law enforcement to be extra cautious.
“We knew that he had a machete because when he got into his vehicle after he was first contacted by law enforcement, it was seen," said Elkins. “He never threatened us with it or threatened to do harm to himself or us. He just had it in the truck, and we didn’t know what his intentions were. We didn’t know what else he had in the vehicle. The unknown was what caused us to use so much caution.”
In addition to Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, officers from Mississippi Highway Patrol, Alabama Highway Patrol, FBI, and ATF assisted, as well as Ocean Springs, Pascagoula, Gautier, and Moss Point officers and Mobile County deputies.
For hours, authorities negotiated over the phone with Mack; then, he stopped talking. Just after 1 p.m., officers opened the door to the truck and threw tear gas into the cab. Officers were then able to pull Mack from the truck.
As far as the driver, Elkins said he was very cooperative with police once face to face contact was made.
“He was very compliant," said the MHP spokesperson. “He listened to every command we gave him once we are able to receive contact with him face-to-face. He was very cooperative with the commands law enforcement gave him.”
Elkins believes several agencies will be charging him.
In the meantime, Mack is being held in Jackson County Adult Detention Center. He appeared before county court judge Mark Watts and faces one charge of felony pursuit from MHP and three charges of aggravated assault against a police officer, one from Jackson County and two from MHP. Watts did not set bond on any charges as he felt Mack is a danger to the community.
He also faces two charges of attempted assault, five charges of reckless endangerment and three charges of criminal mischief from the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office.
Mack initially faced several misdemeanor charges as well, which were dropped after his court appearance.
The truck involved in the standoff will be towed to a location until the company decides what to do with it next.
The interstate was completely re-opened just before 2 p.m.