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Stolen butane truck in high-speed chase

Tennessee authorities found no evidence of a bomb when they stopped the truck Sunday.  

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (CNN) -- A Kentucky man who authorities said threatened President Bush led police on a high-speed chase in a butane truck through southeastern Tennessee, police said Sunday.

Police identified the driver as Monty Branch, 29, of Frankfort, Kentucky. The man faced a variety of charges late Sunday, Tennessee officials said.

The sheriff's department in Bradley County, just north of Chattanooga, received a phone call from Branch on Sunday, according to Beth Womack with the Tennessee Highway Patrol. He reportedly told authorities he was sitting at a gas station in Charleston, Tennessee, with a 3,000 pound bomb.

Police said he also told them, "I've got problems, and the president has problems."

Police said they took that as a threat. By the time sheriff's deputies arrived at the gas station, the suspect had sped off southbound on Interstate 75, driving the tank truck, Womack said.

Deputies chased him to Hamilton County, where Chattanooga police placed "stop sticks" -- designed to puncture a vehicle's tires -- on the highway at a spot about 7 miles from the Georgia border.

But Branch's tires did not immediately deflate, authorities said, and he continued at speeds as fast as 75 miles per hour for another 4 miles, until his tires went flat.

Branch was taken into custody and sent to Bradley County jail. Police said they found no evidence of a bomb.

Branch has not been formally charged, but Womack said he was facing charges ranging from reckless driving and evading authorities to possession of marijuana.

The Secret Service also was called in on the case because of the comments Branch allegedly made about the president.




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