Man charged with 3 felonies in wild pursuit

EVERETT — James Johns was wearing women’s clothes and slippers when the cops found him hiding out in a stranger’s house.

Johns is accused of leading police on a wild chase behind the wheel of a stolen motorhome. The pursuit stretched from south Everett to Granite Falls and finally ended when Johns crashed into a house on the Mountain Loop Highway.

Johns was wearing only his underwear when he broke into a different Granite Falls home, yelling that he was running from the cops and needed some clothes. Police found Johns in an upstairs bedroom. The 200-pound man had squeezed himself into a pair of women’s jeans. He left wearing handcuffs.

Prosecutors on Friday charged Johns, 33, with three felonies, including burglary for allegedly breaking into the woman’s house and stealing the clothing. Johns was being held on $1 million bail. Prosecutors argued for the high bail in light of Johns’ history of disobeying court orders.

Over the years, judges have issued more than three dozen arrest warrants for Johns when he’s failed to show up for court hearings.

The Everett man has racked up nearly two dozen misdemeanor convictions. He’s been convicted of six felonies, dating back to when he was a juvenile.

His latest run-in with the law happened on June 3. Around 12:30 p.m. a man reported that his 1997 Safari Trek motorhome was missing from Snohomish Storage on Bickford Avenue.

About five hours later a man called 911 to report that he spotted his friend’s stolen motorhome in the parking lot of the Walmart on Evergreen Way in Everett. The man said he recognized the motorhome because of the distinctive tiger painted on it.

An Everett police officer found the motorhome in the parking lot. The officer saw a man driving and a woman passenger. As the officer was walking up to the vehicle, the woman jumped out and the motorhome sped off.

Officers followed the recreational vehicle as it sped through south Everett, running red lights and jumping curbs. Johns allegedly drove over a median and cut off several cars to get on the freeway. At that point, police called off the pursuit for safety reasons.

A Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy began following the motorhome at a distance. Johns reportedly exited the freeway at Highway 526, pulled over and then drove across all lanes of traffic to head north on Broadway. A deputy picked up the pursuit. The motorhome sped through the residential area, traveling about 70 mph.

The chase was called off again.

The motorhome was then spotted in north Everett, running red lights and cutting off traffic. Johns reportedly lumbered onto U.S. 2, driving eastbound in the westbound lanes of the trestle, prosecutors wrote.

A sheriff’s deputy caught up with the motorhome in Lake Stevens. Johns headed north on Highway 9, again driving in the opposite lane of travel, forcing vehicles to swerve out of the way. A Washington State Patrol trooper threw some spike strips down on the roadway in an effort to puncture the motorhome’s tires. The trooper reported that Johns swerved at him. The trooper jumped out of the way and the motorhome avoided the spike strips.

Johns kept his foot on the gas, forcing more vehicles off the road. A deputy again tried the spike strips. Johns reportedly swerved at the deputy. The cops called off the pursuit for a fourth time, some 45 minutes after the Everett police officer tried to stop Johns.

About 10 minutes later, the motorhome was spotted driving east on the Mountain Loop Highway, headed toward Granite Falls. That’s where Johns allegedly crashed into several cars and plowed into a house. He sprang out of the motorhome and barged into a house on Mountain View Street.

The homeowner called 911, saying a bald man wearing only underwear had broken in and demanded clothes. The residents ran out of the house as Johns headed upstairs.

Police found Johns there. He “was wearing a pair of women’s jeans that were too small, a woman’s T-shirt and a pair of blue slippers. This clothing belonged to the homeowners,” prosecutors wrote.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463, hefley@heraldnet.com.

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