HARRISON COUNTY Texas (KLTV) - Lt. Jay Webb with the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office says OnStar can aid law enforcement in different ways, such as tracking vehicles’ locations or even shutting off their engines.
On Sunday, OnStar helped East Texas law enforcement officers track down the stolen pickup that was driven by Mytrez Woolen, the man who is accused of shooting and killing the pastor of Starrville Methodist Church in Smith County and injuring the man’s wife and a church member after a crime spree that started in Marshall Saturday night.
Lieutenant Webb says to his knowledge, it’s never happened before in Harrison County that OnStar assisted in an investigation.
“OnStar provided us with a very good service by finding the vehicle, and while we were still in pursuit of the vehicle they were able to disable the vehicle,” Webb said.
The pursuit was brought to a halt and the suspect was taken into custody in Marshall.
“The person that was being pursued was originally from Marshall, so he had an idea of where he was going,” Webb said.
But if he had a destination in mind he didn’t get there. Officers in pursuit didn’t ask OnStar for assistance themselves.
“It was relayed through dispatch. And then we ran the license plate, we get the VIN number, we then contact OnStar,” Webb said.
Not just anyone can make a request to remotely shut down a vehicle’s electrical system.
“It requires certain steps that we have to go through to make sure law enforcement are actually the ones calling,” Webb said.
And Webb says if a vehicle has OnStar but the service has become inactive, they can still help.
“They have the ability to track your vehicle, and in a situation like law enforcement needing some assistance like this, OnStar has been very, very helpful and useful,” Webb said.
And that was proven to be true over the weekend.
“If it had not been terminated, then the vehicle could have entered right into downtown Marshall, could have gone down some other side streets. It could have caused a lot of problems,” Webb said.
But that didn’t happen since the car could be slowed down remotely.
“The person that was driving the vehicle was not going to stop. He had no intentions of stopping. But because of OnStar we were able to end the pursuit and make the arrest of a murder suspect,” Webb said.
General Motors says once a vehicle is shut down, it is impossible to restart.
OnStar can also unlock doors or roll down windows if a child or pet gets locked inside a vehicle.
According to OnStar, “Each month, OnStar responds to over 1,500 stolen vehicles requests using its Stolen Vehicle Assistance technology, providing members with peace of mind. In partnership with first responders, OnStar can quickly recover stolen vehicles while helping keep the officers and community safe. With OnStar’s Stolen Vehicle Slowdown, an OnStar Advisor can send a signal to disable the stolen vehicle’s engine, gradually slow the vehicle to an idle speed and block ignitions from restarting to assist police in attempting to recover a member’s vehicle, once authorities have confirmed conditions are appropriate.”
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