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Soldier in Stolen Armored Vehicle Was on Drugs, Police Say

A Virginia National Guard soldier who stole an armored personnel carrier and led police on a more than 60-mile chase through central Virginia was under the influence of drugs, authorities say.

Joshua Philip Yabut, 29, of Richmond got inside an M577 armored personnel vehicle and drove away from Fort Pickett in Nottoway County about 7:50 p.m. Tuesday, police said. Fort Pickett is home to the National Guard's Maneuver Training Center, according to the military installation's website. 

Police pursued Yabut as he drove east along Route 460 and onto Interstate 95 north toward Richmond. The chase ended along Broad Street — a main thoroughfare for traffic in Richmond.

The vehicle topped out at 45 mph, police said. The vehicle was not equipped with weapons, but the National Guard says Yabut did have his personal weapon with no ammunition. 

Yabut is a first lieutenant assigned as the commander of the 276th Engineer Battalion, the National Guard said. He has been with the National Guard for more than 11 years and was deployed to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009.

Yabut seemed to foreshadow the theft and chase in Twitter posts Tuesday. Hours before the vehicle drove off the base, an account confirmed by the Guard as Yabut's tweeted a Wikipedia entry about the M113 armored personnel carrier, which is similar to the M577 vehicle police chased, and a screenshot of a map around the area where the vehicle eventually stopped. 

Minutes after police began their pursuit shortly before 8 p.m., Yabut posted a photo and video of himself in what appears to be the stolen vehicle. 

He wrote a series of odd tweets Tuesday, including: "where is this damn water buffalo" "all i wanna do is get an anime wife'' and "wow I think I just discovered a large illegal spy operation in the us government." 

The chase ended about 9:40 p.m. when Yabut abandoned the vehicle and was taken into custody near City Hall.

No injuries or crashes were reported.

Yabut has been charged with driving under the influence of drugs, one felony count of eluding police and one felony count of unauthorized use of a vehicle. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney who could answer to the charges.

The incident remains under investigation. 

This is not the first time a large piece of military equipment has been stolen from a military installation. More than 20 years ago, a man stole a 63-ton military tank form a National Guard armory in San Diego, California, according to a New York Times article from 1995. The man was fatally shot after driving the tank through neighborhoods, causing significant damage. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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