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HAMILTON - A Washington man and his pet bird were taken into custody Thursday afternoon after a high speed car chase that started north of Victor and ended in downtown Hamilton.

John David Henshaw, 39, was arrested pending possible charges of eluding arrest and negligent criminal endangerment, officers said.

Missoula City Police also suspect Henshaw of a theft at a Missoula sporting goods store which happened several hours before Henshaw's arrest.

According to an employee at Bob Ward and Sons in Southgate Mall, a man matching Henshaw's description and carrying an exotic, yellow bird on his shoulder came into the store Wednesday night, but didn't seem too interested in the merchandise. He asked where the dressing rooms were, then left, the employee said.

The next day around noon, the man and his bird came back to the store briefly, then disappeared.

Not long after, the store's assistant manager and another employee noticed that a bank bag containing cash and checks was missing from the store's vault.

Two hours later, Montana Highway patrol officer John O'Neill was heading north on U.S. Highway 93 near the Bell Crossing when he saw a white Chrysler convertible with Washington plates pull out in front of a tractor-trailer that was heading south. The tractor-trailer skidded to avoid hitting the convertible, and O'Neill turned around to stop the car.

At that point, the driver of the car, later determined to be Henshaw, allegedly sped up.

Henshaw exceeded speeds of 90 mph as he headed south into Hamilton, all the while tossing handfuls of cash and checks out his window, said Mike Frehlick, a Montana Highway Patrol Captain.

When Henshaw reached Hamilton City limits, Ravalli County Sheriff's deputies and Hamilton City Police officers joined the pursuit.

Henshaw headed north on Erie Avenue until a dead end stopped him, said Hamilton police detective Steve Shook. Henshaw allegedly abandoned the car, and took off on foot through swamp and cattails with Shook and another officer in pursuit.

The two caught up with Henshaw within 200 yards and arrested him, Shook said. Henshaw's car was seized, along with a caged, yellow bird found in the car, officers said.

In addition to pending Ravalli County charges, Henshaw has two warrants for his arrest in Colorado, where he is charged with burglary and escape from a detention facility.

He will appear in Ravalli County Justice Court Friday. Until then, he is being held at the Ravalli County jail.

Henshaw's exotic bird was remanded to the care of a local animal shelter, officers said.

Friday - 6/25/99

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