A combat veteran accused of leading police on a long, high-speed chase down Interstate 5 earlier this month pleaded not guilty in a Cowlitz County courtroom Tuesday morning.
Christopher James Bleavins, 35, is accused of first threatening a Las Vegas-style shooting at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma and then leading law enforcement in several counties on an 80-mile-long chase, sometimes reaching speeds greater than 120 mph.
Investigators say Bleavins hit several cars and trucks in his path before finally crashing his Mazda 6. Deputies said he attempted to run away, but was quickly arrested.
Cowlitz County deputies released dashcam video of part of the chase, including the suspect's car nearly causing a crash with a truck hauling a livestock trailer.
There were no reports of serious injuries in connection with the chase and crashes.
Bleavins' attorney introduced letters of support for Bleavins in court Tuesday, and he talked about Bleavins as a combat leader and a man who saved the lives of his fellow soldiers.
Authorities say Bleavins suffers from PTSD and suffered both mental and physical injuries in service to his country. He has been given a psychological evaluation.
Bleavins is a husband and father and has no prior criminal history, according to court records.
His attorney asked that bail be set at $5,000, but the judge sided with the prosecution and set bail at $100,000, saying he feared Bleavins could still be a danger to the community, especially since his defense had not arranged a treatment plan for the veteran.
Bleavins' attorney said he hopes to move this case from superior court to a veterans treatment court, where his client could get treatment for PTSD.
In the meantime, Bleavins remains in the Cowlitz County Jail on charges of reckless endangerment, assault, eluding police and hit and run.
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