'Cabjacking' suspect had 200 grams of drugs, was shot at before chase, police say

Police chase and apprehend taxi carjacking suspect. (KOMO News file photo)

EVERETT, Wash. - The man suspected of stealing a taxi cab at gunpoint Wednesday and leading deputies on a high-speed chase down Interstate 5 had more than 200 grams of meth and heroin stuffed in his pockets when he was arrested, according to court documents.

But the suspect didn't fire a single shot during the entire incident, the court report says. Instead, the shots that were heard by many witnesses in Lynnwood before the chase began were fired from a red Honda that was following the cab before it was stolen, the court report says.

According to the police report, the series of events that led to the gunshots and chase began earlier in the afternoon when a Yellow Cab driver was dispatched to pick up a man and woman at a mobile home park off 202nd Street SW and 62nd Avenue West. The man picked up was later identified as William H. Nettleton, 38, of Renton, according to the court file.

Nettleton asked the driver to head for Highway 99, then stop at a Dairy Queen, then head back out to the highway. At some point, Nettleton told the cab driver they were being followed by a red Honda-type vehicle, so the cab driver changed direction - but the red Honda kept following.

The cab driver then tried to elude the Honda and pulled into the parking lot of a Dollar Tree in the 13600 block of Mukilteo Speedway - but the Honda followed them there. As the cab driver pulled out of the parking lot, someone in the Honda suddenly opened fire at the cab - and those were the shots heard by so many witnesses.

The cab driver felt his life was in danger, as well as his two passengers' lives, so he took off and managed to elude the Honda, eventually coming to a stop at 140th Street SW and 26th Place West, according to the police report.

Nettleton and the woman bailed out of the cab. But then Nettleton allegedly told the cab driver to get out of the cab and give him his keys, because he had a gun and he was taking the cab. The cab driver, feeling threatened, got out and gave the keys to Nettleton, the court file says.

Nettleton drove off, but then made a loop and returned to hand the cab driver's cell phone to him - then drove off again. But the cab driver's phone didn't have a battery - so he stopped a passing couple and used their phone to call 911.

Deputies responded and chased the stolen taxi through Lynnwood and down I-5 at high speeds until the taxi crashed at the entrance of the southbound HOV lanes on I-5 near Northgate.

Deputies arrested Nettleton and reportedly found 147 grams of crystal methamphetamine and 60 grams of heroin in his pockets, according to the court file. He was booked into the Snohomish County Jail.

Deputies also found a firearm on the floor of the cab, and what appeared to be a bullet hole in the trunk of the cab. The taxi driver told deputies that the firearm wasn't his and that he never carried one.

Nettleton appeared in court Thurday and was ordered held on $200,000 bail.

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