Wednesday, July 17, 2024


Last Friday around 10 p.m., Gary Sharpen, Shenandoah Police Sergeant, was on patrol in the neighborhoods of Montgomery County when he heard of a vehicle travelling southbound in the northbound lanes of Interstate 45, north of Conroe, at approximately 100 miles per hour.

Conroe Police units received reports about the vehicle, which was a PT Cruiser, and ultimately found it near North Loop 336 on the southbound shoulder of the northbound lanes. As they approached, the vehicle fled southbound.

Sergeant Sharpen knew the Cruiser might make its way to Shenandoah, so he rushed to Interstate 45 and entered the freeway in a construction area. There were concrete walls on both sides of the freeway and no shoulders. Traffic was especially thick due to it being Friday night and because a football game had just ended.

Sharpen slowly began to weave across the freeway’s lanes in his vehicle in an attempt to stop the flow of traffic. Most vehicles slowed but some tried to go around.

Listening to his radio, Sharpen learned that the Cruiser was only a short distance ahead and still travelling at 100 miles per hour. Then he saw lights.

“I angled my vehicle to a position where he would strike the right front, putting as much mass as possible between us. I then tightened my seatbelt and braced for impact.” said Sharpen.

Fortunately, the impact never came because the PT Cruiser locked his breaks and was able to stop within 10 feet. The Cruiser made a U-turn and Sharpen pursued.

They passed the northbound entrance ramp of SH 242 and the driver of the Cruiser crossed three lanes, appearing to attempt to strike a vehicle entering the freeway. The Cruiser then took the FM 1488 exit, still travelling at almost 100 miles per hour. It continued on the feeder through intersections for 4 miles.

They approached South Loop 336 in Conroe and the driver turned westbound, drover under Interestate 45 and into the parking lot of a Shell gas station. He passed at least two people who were pumping gas in the parking lot then went through the Incredible Pizza parking lot and past the entrance doors of the Waffle House. As he was leaving, a Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputy tried to stop the vehicle but the it went around him and into the Kroger gas station parking lot.

The driver then exited the parking lot and entered the westbound lanes of South Loop 336 traveling eastbound. Crossing over, he entered the east bound lanes and went under the freeway. He was met there by a DPS Trooper. Seeing the trooper’s weapon drawn, the driver stopped his vehicle and exited. He was immediately placed in custody.

As a Trooper began to search the vehicle, he found two unrestrained children ages 18-months and 4-years-old in the back seat.

The driver was identified as Jose Luis Alejo-Zavaliija , 25, of 3408 Chapman in Houston. He was under the influence of drugs was arrested and charged with evading arrest, two counts of abandon/endanger child criminal negligence and two counts of driving while intoxicated with a child under 15. He remains in the Montgomery County Jail on a total of $125,000 in bonds. The children’s mother was incarcerated in the Harris County at the time of the incident on burglary charges.

Shenandoah Police Chief John Chancellor commends Sergeant Sharpen’s actions.

“Our officers risk their lives every day to keep the public safe. is what we do. However, it is uncommon valor that an officer makes a conscious choice to put themselves in harms way to save others, knowing that they themselves may not survive. This is true selflessness and we are very proud of Gary’s actions. “

Chief Chancellor would also like to thank all of the other agencies that worked as a team to get this dangerous driver safely off the street.

“It is a testament to the dedication and professionalism of all the folks involved that we were able to take this suspect into custody with no harm to anyone else, especially the innocent children who were placed in danger by this criminal”.



Alejo-Zavalija, Jose Luis




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