Soldier, charged with driving on drugs, appears to have been tweeting from stolen military vehicle

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia National Guard Soldier Joshua Philip Yabut was arrested after he allegedly stole a M577 armored personnel carrier from Fort Pickett Tuesday evening and drove it 60 miles to downtown Richmond while police were in pursuit.

Yabut, 29, of Richmond, was charged with driving under the influence of drugs, felony eluding police, and felony unauthorized use of a vehicle.

“The unit was conducting routine training at Fort Pickett when [Yabut] drove away in the armored personnel carrier,” Virginia National Guard spokesperson Cotton Puryear said.

Police pursued Yabut from Route 460 in Blackstone to Interstate 85 and then north on Interstate 95 to Richmond.

While in the vehicle, it appeared Yabut was posting photos and video to Twitter:

“The vehicle was not equipped with any weapons, but the Soldier did have his personal weapon with him but had no ammunition,” Puryear said. “Yabut is a first lieutenant assigned as the commander of the Petersburg-based Headquarters Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, and he has more than 11 years of service. He deployed to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009 with the Illinois National Guard.”

Yabut was booked in Richmond jail.

Virginia State Police are investigating the incident.

“We are extremely grateful that there were no injuries as a result of this incident, and we appreciate the great work of the Virginia State Police, Richmond Police Department and other law enforcement and first responders who safely brought this situation to a close,” Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, said “We have initiated our own internal investigation, and we will determine appropriate actions once the investigation is complete.”

The incident was first reported 7:50 p.m. Tuesday. Yabut was taken into custody in downtown Richmond just before 10 p.m.

In February 2018, Yabut filed with the Federal Election Commission, with intent to run for Senate. 

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