Suspect in 3 high-speed chases in custody

From staff reports

A Titusville man accused of leading police on three high-speed car chases in the last two months was taken into custody at 2 a.m. Tuesday.

Titusville police said William F. Birchard, 40, was located in a vehicle parked in a business parking lot. As officers approached the vehicle, Birchard exited the vehicle and ran on foot.

After about eight minutes, officers were able to locate Birchard and take him into custody without further incident, police said.

According to police reports, Birchard was the driver of the vehicle in a January incident in which a Titusville officer fired his gun twice at the vehicle.

After a chase through Titusville and into Oil Creek Township on Jan. 28, the vehicle stopped near the intersection of Route 8 and Boghollow Road, Corry state police said.

A Titusville officer left the cruiser and fired his weapon at the vehicle, state police said.

Crawford County District Attorney Francis J. Schultz concluded the officer was justified in the action that was taken.

Birchard was apprehended Feb. 25 and was freed on a $40,000 bond.

On March 12, according to court documents, he was charged in another incident of fleeing from police, in which he was not apprehended.

On March 19, Titusville police received a call from Warren state police stating that Birchard was pursuing his ex-girlfriend in a vehicle, according to a criminal complaint.

Police pursued Birchard out of Titusville and through Pleasantville at speeds exceeding 85 miles per hour, according to the complaint. The pursuit was ended along Route 36 as Birchard continued toward Tionesta, the complaint said.

In Tuesday’s incident, Birchard was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Birchard was taken to the Crawford County jail Tuesday morning and was arraigned before district judge Amy Nicols.

Bail was set at $65,000 for the March 19 fleeing and eluding case and $15,000 for Tuesday’s charges.

Birchard has four preliminary hearings scheduled next month for the various cases against him. Two are on April 9 and the others are on April 15 and April 23. Two of the cases involve felony charges.