By Joyce May
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE – A 21-year-old Copperas Cove resident and U.S. Army soldier is expected to be arraigned today on charges to be filed in connection with a high-speed chase that ended in a crash Tuesday.
Luis Manuel Cortes-Melendez, 21, was treated and released from Darnall Army Medical Center for minor injuries he suffered after crashing a 2006 Honda Civic that he allegedly stole, Lt. Danny Austin of the Copperas Cove Police Department said.
Austin said Cortes-Melendez was fleeing police by traveling west on Avenue C at a high rate of speed when the vehicle went out of control at North First Street and crashed.
He is being held in the Copperas Cove jail and charges for reckless driving and a stolen vehicle are pending, Austin said, noting that other charges may also be brought against Cortes-Melendez.
The soldier is also a suspect in a Copperas Cove burglary case and identity-theft case.
Copperas Cove resident Chelsie Archer said not only was she an eyewitness to a crime committed by Cortes-Melendez, but she and her boyfriend had been victimized by him.
"For the past week, we have been scared to go back to our own house," Archer said, saying that the suspect had not only been stalking her family but his own ex-wife also.
She reported that Cortes-Melendez had been at their home on several occasions because his current girlfriend was staying with them after being kicked out of a neighbor's apartment.
"We hated seeing a pregnant girl (Cortes-Melendez's girlfriend) on the street, so we let her come stay with us," Archer said. "A couple of days turned into a couple of weeks, and then he started coming over and staying too. We learned he was AWOL (absent without leave), so we kicked them out and then discovered $1,100 and our debit card was missing."
The couple filed a police report May 15, but Archer said that on Monday, less than a week later, Cortes-Melendez returned to their home acting as if nothing had happened.
That is when she witnessed him breaking into the neighbors' home and carrying several items to the 2006 Honda Civic.
Archer said she did not have a telephone to immediately notify police but waited until Cortes-Melendez had left before calling police from a neighbor's phone.
Several items were discovered in the car at the time of the accident Tuesday.
Fort Hood officials were unable to confirm late Tuesday whether Cortes-Melendez had been reported AWOL or whether there were additional charges pending against him at Fort Hood.
Contact Joyce May at email@example.com or call (254) 547-0428