THP chase Hamblen County robbery suspect down I-81, into Kingsport


HAMBLEN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – State troopers chased an armed robbery suspect and fugitive down Interstate 81 and into Kingsport on Thursday, according to Tennessee Highway Patrol.

A tweet from Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) says officers were on the lookout for a black Lexus 330 on Oct. 14 after an armed robbery in Hamblen County.

Around 13 minutes after the order was given, THP officers spotted a Lexus matching the vehicle’s description on I-81 North around Mile Marker 37.

After losing contact with the vehicle, the release says officers found it exiting a rest area and tried to stop the car. THP says the Lexus then fled North “at a high rate of speed” while troopers pursued it down Exit 50.

THP reports that the driver swerved to avoid spike strips deployed on Highway 93 before continuing to Lincoln Street near downtown Kingsport. Once on Lincoln Street, THP says the driver left the car while it was still moving and ran from officers.

After a chase on foot, THP arrested Francis Zegilla Jr., 54, on charges of felony reckless endangerment, felony evading arrest, reckless driving and fugitive charges connected to burglary and drug-related warrants in Georgia and South Carolina.

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