Multiple-agency, two parish car chase results in two arrests, numerous charges

Crime

(l-r)Tessa Coutee and Daniel Rister (Photos courtesy Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office)

NATCHITOCHES PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A Gorum man and his girlfriend are behind bars, facing a plethora of charges in connection with a Thursday car chase that spanned two parishes, as well as illegal possession of a stolen firearm, according to Natchitoches Parish Sheriff Stuart Wright.

Daniel A. Rister, 28, and his live-in girlfriend, 23-year-old Tessa B. Coutee were taken into custody Sunday after Rister was found hiding in the attic of their home with a stolen AR-15 rifle.

Coutee gave deputies permission to search the residence, and before they found Rister hiding up above, deputies spotted an escape hatch that had been cut in the floor in the bedroom under the bed.

It all began on Thursday when LSP Trooper John Axsom clocked a Ford Focus on stationary radar driving 101 miles per hour in a 75 MPH speed zone on Interstate-49 near milepost #116 south of Cloutierville.

Troopers attempted to stop the speeding car, but the driver, later identified as Rister, wasn’t having it and led troopers on a merry chase after he exited I-49 at the Chopin exit.

From the Chopin exit, Rister headed west on Louisiana Highway 490 into the Janie community, then through the Gorum and Mora communities, before crossing the Natchitoches Parish line and into Rapides Parish, picking up more LSP troopers, NPSO deputies and then Rapides Parish deputies along the way.

Troopers say as the chase continued into Rapides Parish and onto Tom Edwards Road, the old Focus finally gave up the ghost, so to speak.

But even a disabled Ford wasn’t enough to stop Rister – he jumped out, along with a female, later identified as Coutee, who, believe it or not, was holding an infant – and they scurried into a nearby abandoned barn.

Shortly thereafter, Coutee, still holding her 2-month-old baby exited the barn and walked toward law enforcement doing just what they told her to do.

Meanwhile, Rister, who left his girlfriend and baby to deal with law enforcement, was spotted running from the barn and into the woods. A heavy law enforcement presence in the area conducted a manhunt but was unsuccessful, as Rister is familiar with the woods and backroads in those parts.

A wrecker was called to haul off the old Focus and law enforcement sat down to have a visit with Coutee, who was able to give them some insight into the situation.

She said she and Rister were having an argument while driving along in the automobile and she tried to get him to stop but he refused.

State police, Natchitoches and Rapides deputies were then made aware that Rister already had active warrants against him and continued patrols in the area, but he didn’t turn up. Law enforcement asked a 10th JDC Judge to sign off on criminal arrest warrants for his most recent shenanigans, which he did.

And early Sunday morning, a team of Louisiana State Police Troopers assigned to Troop-E Alexandria and NPSO Deputies armed with a criminal arrest warrant called on Mr. Rister and Ms. Coutee at their home in the 100 block of Andy Cedars Road in Gorum, They said the home was easy to find, as this wasn’t the first time their assistance was requested at the Coutee/Rister residence.

At the home, Coutee said Riser wasn’t home, but granted permission for law enforcement to look around, which is how they ultimately found Riser hiding in the attic with the AK-15 rifle. On checking it out, they learned the rifle had been stolen in a Jan. 11 residential burglary in Gorum.

This stolen AK-15, was with Daniel Rister Sunday morning when law enforcement found him hiding in the attic of his home in the Gorum community. He had been on the lam since leading multiple agencies on a two-parish car chase last Thursday.

Both Rister and Coutee were placed under arrest and booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center.

Rister’s charges are as follows:  

  • Speeding 101/75
  • Aggravated Flight from a Police Officer
  • Aggravated Obstruction of a Highway
  • Driving under Suspension
  • Criminal Trespassing
  • Resisting an Officer
  • Criminal Damage to Property
  • Child Desertion and Illegal Possession of a Stolen Firearm.

Coutee’s charges are as follows:  

  • Accessory after the Fact for Harboring Rister
  • Criminal Obstruction of Justice.

In addition, there is an ongoing investigation into the burglary case and the couple is facing additional criminal charges in Rapides Parish. But for now, they remain tucked away in the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center.

The best news is that the baby is safe and has been released to relatives; the Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services are expected to be notified of the investigation.

Wright expressed gratitude that his office was able to work with State Police on the arrests, as well as recover a stolen potentially dangerous weapon. He said his office had been receiving complaints and calls for service, reporting that Rister allegedly was firing an AR-15 in the Gorum area. But when deputies would show up, Rister did his usual thing – either hiding or running into the woods.

Wright expressed  hope that Rister’s arrest “will ease some concern for the safety of the citizens in the Gorum area.”

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