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Suspect apprehended after chase that stretched from Steubenville to Wheeling

APPREHENDED — Andrew Whitsett of Garfield Heights was taken into custody Thursday after leading officers on a high-speed chase that began in Steubenville and ended on Wheeling Island. -- Kim North

STEUBENVILLE — A 23-year-old Ohio man who authorities say was trying to avoid being arrested on attempted arson and weapons charges allegedly led police on a high-speed chase from the South End of Steubenville to Wheeling Island Thursday.

Andrew Whitsett of 4647 Horton Road, Garfield Heights, was taken into custody in the basement of a home at 91 Virginia St. on Wheeling Island, said Sgt. Jeff Bernard of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Bernard said a trooper had tried to serve Whitsett with a felony arrest warrant in a gas station parking lot just off state Route 7, but he “failed to comply.”

“The suspect drove away at a high rate of speed in a 2008 Jeep,” Bernard said. “He fled south on state Route 7 at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour.”

Bernard said stop sticks were deployed in Belmont County, but Whitsett was able to continue onto Wheeling Island bridge where he exited his vehicle.

Wheeling police officers joined in the chase when the man jumped from a Jeep on the Interstate 70 on-ramp from the Island and then climbed down a construction ladder near the Burger King.

“He jumped off the bridge onto Wheeling Island and fled on foot, breaking into a house on Wheeling Island,” Bernard said.

Officers from Wheeling, Martins Ferry, Bridgeport, Yorkville and Bellaire joined the OHSP in following the man into West Virginia and aided in the arrest. The man was hiding in a basement at the Virginia Street residence when he was apprehended.

Bernard said police saw Whitsett enter the home and made contact with the homeowner, who was unaware an intruder had entered.

Whitsett was one of two people indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury July 9 on charges of aggravated arson, felonious assault with a firearm specification and discharging a firearm on or over a roadway, again with a firearm specification, on May 2.

Whitsett also was charged with having weapons under disability because he had a firearm in his possession even though he’d previously been adjudicated as a delinquent child for a burglary offense.

Authorities allege Whitsett and Dascia N. Redman, 22, of 600 Northwood Court, Wheeling, had set fire to a gas can left on the porch of an Oregon Avenue residence occupied by four people. Redman entered a plea of not guilty to all charges when she was arraigned Wednesday before Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr.

(Staff writer Kim North contributed to this story.)

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