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Big Forks man surrenders after daylong chase through Montana

BOZEMAN (AP) — A man suspected of breaking into a house, stealing three vehicles in the Belgrade area, and leading law enforcement officers on a daylong chase through southwestern Montana finally surrendered in the mountains west of Pony, Madison County officials said.

About 25 deputies and state troopers were about to call off the search in the Tobacco Root Mountains when the man walked out of the woods Thursday evening with his arms in the air, said Madison County Deputy Steve DiGiovanna.

Officers arrested him.

"To have this all end without injury is incredible," DiGiovanna said. "We are very, very grateful."

KTVM-TV reports Matthew Brian Brandemihl of Three Forks made an initial court appearance Friday morning on three counts of felony theft, burglary and criminal endangerment. His bail was set at $100,000.

Brandemihl, 31, was initially taken to the hospital for treatment of cuts and injuries suffered during the chases and vehicle crashes.

Prosecutors say the pursuit began when someone stole a pickup truck from a business south of Belgrade Thursday morning, and eluded officers by driving off-road. Deputies say he abandoned the vehicle when he got it stuck and broke into a nearby house. The woman who was home told officers he took her phone, stole bottles of beer and grabbed the key to her sport utility vehicle.

Court records say he crashed the SUV through the garage door as he left. Officers again pursued him, but he again went off-road.

Officers found the SUV behind a business, but the suspect had already stolen a third vehicle, a pickup.

The owner of the pickup reported the theft and officers put out county and statewide alerts.

The Madison County Sheriff's Office received a call from a Norris gas station at about 11:30 a.m., reporting a pickup matching the stolen one had just filled up with gas.

A deputy sheriff spotted the vehicle about 15 miles south of Harrison on U.S. Highway 287. For the third time Thursday, the suspect led officers on pursuits with speeds up to 100 mph. He eventually abandoned the truck when he could travel no farther into the Tobacco Root Mountains.

Two dozen deputies from the Gallatin and Madison County sheriff's offices, state troopers and K-9 units searched through the day for the man. They were about to end the search for the night when the man walked out of the woods.

Gallatin County Undersheriff Dan Springer says law enforcement has yet to find a motive for the crime spree.


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